Rimbey’s AGRIM Centre recently received half of its million-dollar donation from Ponoka County, which was allocated to the project during budget time. However, the action prompted another debate in council.
County councillors had set specifications on the funds, stating the Rimbey Agricultural Society had to first produce more financial information and a business plan before any money was handed over.
“We want to know where you’re at with completion, where you’re at in terms of financial wherewithal to compete. So he (Ken Whitlock of the ag society) sent me that stuff,” said county CAO Charlie Cutforth, referring to a phone conversation he had the day after council approved the budget.
It’s now known to the county that the AGRIM has definite and pending private funding sources to help get the building to a useable stage.
“This building is closed in already, it has the windows in. I didn’t realize, frankly I thought that they had the steel structure constructed and that they were waiting for additional funding to get this closed,” said Cutforth.
He went out to Rimbey for a first-hand look at the “impressive” building and met with the ag society’s banker to ensure the validity of its financial position. “And it’s in process but the approval has been granted. So we know if they do require any mortgaging they have the ability to do that. That’s outside of our line of credit.”
The day Cutforth viewed the building the contactor was also there to collect the process payment of approximately half a million dollars. Because he felt council’s specifications were met Cutforth contacted Reeve Paul McLauchlin. “On that basis, and with the information I had, I issued a cheque.”
Coun. Doug Weir was unhappy the cheque was cut before any information came back to council as a whole. “I’m never going to question Charlie and what he does, ever, he’s made this the great community we are.”
Despite his trust in Cutforth Weir feels, when council establishes specifications for a donation, a more structured procedure is needed to inform councillors on how their concerns will be met by whatever organization is being dealt with at the time. “When we do establish some conditions on something I fully expect it to come back to council.”
“And I think you were amiss yourself on signing that. We still don’t have anything written,” he added. “I’m a very visual person and I need information down on paper that I can just look at.”
Cutforth believed that because the parameters set by council for the donation were met it would be all right to give the society the money.
“Frankly, when you put forward your proposal for some policy development that didn’t meet with any resounding approval from the rest of council and so I took that to mean I understand your concern and so on. But that is hardly direction to me,” he told Weir.