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Motion to end farm grant program lost in tie vote

Municipal staff are recommending the Farming Assistance Grant Program be discontinued due to the implementation of a reduced farm tax ratio for 2019.

But at council’s committee of the whole meeting Thursday, the motion was lost in a tie vote – but could be pulled for discussion again at council’s next meeting where committee of the whole decisions are finalized.

Mayor Steve Ferguson echoed a few councillors’ concerns that some farmers could benefit by “double dipping” in the grant program, and the new reduced farm tax ratio.

Others were pleased the new ratio benefits all farmers, while the grant program is designed to help new, and young farmers negatively impacted by increasing farm land values.

In March, council adopted a farm tax ratio calculation that would be revenue neutral to farmers in 2019, to provide relief to all farmers, not just young or new farmers.

Last year, a total of 20 applications were received, valued at $12,299.86 – five from new farmers with grants totalling $1,500 and 15 from young farmers totalling $10,799.86.

Council had set aside $40,000 for the grant program based on recommendations from the Farming Assistance Ad-Hoc Committee. After legal costs to establish the County Cultivation Corporation to administer grants (and potentially other programs), auditing costs, and the cost of supplying the grants, $20,079.40 was spent of the $40,000 budget leaving a balance of $19,920.60.

If the grant program remains in place for 2019, council can re-evalute it during 2020 budget talks.

Filed Under: Local News

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