Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Ranch Subsidy Extended

Posted on 6/13/2016 8:00 PM by Pete McIntyre 107.5 KISSFM
The O'Keefe Ranch will continue to get the same funding from the City Vernon, at least until the end of next year. A majority of city council (5-2 vote) decided to continue the 150-thousand dollar annual grant to the heritage attraction, with another review next year. Despite the ranch seeing record attendance and making money last year, councillor Catherine Lord says now is not the time to start phasing out the grant. "I would like to see it (grant) extended forever because to me, it's a museum. It's an historic site museum," says Lord. Mayor Akbal Mund wanted to start phasing out the grant next year. "We're giving an organization money who in the last financials I know of, they made over $40,000. How do I approve that? How do I get the general public to understand we're giving money to an organization that is making money?" Mund tells Kiss FM. City staff had recommended council stick with a 2013 resolution to cut the grant to 100-thousand dollars next year, 50-thousand in 2018, and to $10,000 in 2019. "It's a regional asset and it should be a sub-regional function. I am shocked when we say we will continue to do this. I have not seen financial statements the last five years, "said councillor Juliette Cunningham. Cunningham was opposed to Lord's original motion to extend the current subsidy for two more years, which she later changed to one year. Bob Spiers joined Mund in opposition to the one year extension. The City of Vernon owns the ranch which is located in Spallumcheen.
Another year for O'Keefe 
by Kate Bouey - CASTANET Jun 14, 2016 / 5:00 am
O'Keefe Ranch will get a $150,000 grant from the City of Vernon for at least one extra year, although council squabbled ahead of the decision. “It's something we cannot lose,” said Coun. Scott Anderson. “I'd almost like to see our museum out there. It's the epicentre of the region's history.” “It's a heritage site,” said Coun. Brian Quiring. “They've done a pretty good job of moving the ranch forward.” Quiring said removing the grant would “almost be penalizing them for their success.” “If we don't give them the money there is a significant chance that the ranch is going to close.” In May, the ranch's general manager Glen Taylor asked council to rethink a 2013 decision to slash funding for the historic site. In an effort to force the ranch to become self-sufficient, council decided three years ago that the grant would be reduced by $50,000 in 2017, another $50,000 in 2018 and then $40,000 in 2019. Coun. Catherine Lord, a former manager of the ranch, said afterward she would like the historic site to receive the full grant each and every year. Lord pressed for the grant despite a staff recommendation that council deny an extension of the funding. Others on council were not so positive. “I'm not questioning the value,” said Coun. Juliette Cunningham, expressing “shock” that council would okay grant funding without having seen financial statements from the ranch for a number years. Cunningham said the ranch should also be promoted among regional partners who may be convinced to help financially. In the end only Vernon Mayor Akbal Mund and Coun. Bob Spiers voted against the one year extension. “It is irresponsible of council to give money to a society that's making money,” said Mund, ahead of the vote. Spiers said the ranch had been granted $2.2 million in taxpayers' money since 1997 and that the earlier decision to reduce the subsidy over three years was more than fair. The ranch will be ordered to reveal its 2015 financial statement by October and to produce a sustainability report for council.

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