Where are we now with FCSS and Wheatland FCSS? 0
So it's been a month since the Town of Strathmore decided to leave Wheatland Family and Community Support Services (WFCSS) to form their own standalone program.
The WFCSS board has finally had time to meet and the muddy picture of the future is starting to clear up.
There are still many questions to be answered but the rough picture is starting to take shape.
As the article adjacent suggests, WFCSS will still exist. As will the new town FCSS. So what exactly will the two provide and how will they divide funding.
The answer to that is still unknown. According to Strathmore Deputy CAO Linda Nelson the town is looking for an FCSS coordinator while at the same time pondering funding and program arrangements.
The thing that is clear is that the town FCSS will be structured to provide their own programming rather than relying on funding outside programs.
"What (WFCSS) is doing a lot of the time is handing the money out. What we're saying is instead of giving out the funding we would be funding our own programming," said Nelson.
This is where the town's idea of new and enhanced programming comes from. Since they won't be spending as much money on outside programs they can provide their own. Internal programming would be cheaper, with less overhead.
"There are all sorts of different ways to save (money)," said Nelson. "Because we already have our own accounting department there isn't an extra cost for external accounting."
So there will be more money kept internally and hopefully the dollar will go farther.
However that doesn't mean that all non-FCSS or outside program funding will be eliminated but that it would be reduced from current expenditure.
"There may still be some funding that goes out, and we haven't got to that part yet. But that's one of the ideas is that we would like to make some of our own programs," said Nelson.
So how's that for an unclear answer. Not that it's Nelson's fault, she doesn't know what the actual numbers will be because no one does. And in this case due diligence and discussion are paramount to finding the right solution.
But clearly something will have to be cut. With only a little over half of the WFCSS funding coming with the town to their new FCSS, making the dollar go further by bringing programs in house won't make up the whole difference in funding and allow for new enhanced programs.
The town has stated that Home Support will remain (they're encouraging WFCSS home support workers to work for the town's FCSS) but what of the other programs. Many of WFCSS' current programs but they are clearly primarily used by Strathmore residents. Meals on Wheels, Step One Housing, Community Coats are just a few more either funded, administered or both by WFCSS.
"I think it was about $157,000 in indirect funding that we provided to (several) programs and 90 per cent of that funding went into the boundaries of Strathmore. These programs can't end. We'll continue our rural ones but what will happen to the ones in the Town of Strathmore... Without the funding that we provided as WFCSS many of these programs wouldn't be able to operate," said WFCSS chairman Darcy Burke echoing my concerns.
No one knows which ones are on the chopping block just yet, but clearly something has to give. If it's indirect funding that is going to be cut than those programs can't be just ended by the town. Instead they'll just have funding dry up and be left to their own devices.
So is it up to WFCSS to make up the funding shortfall that will beset at least some of these groups when the town FCSS decides to cut indirect funding?
"Those would be rural dollars going into the town and I'm not sure how receptive the board would be to that," said Burke.
It wasn't a no, but it certainly wasn't a yes.
Perhaps the biggest question is will the town's handling of the situation lead to an adverserial relationship between the two FCSS'.
"I believe as municipalities and as elected officials we deserve the right for proper consultation. The government of Alberta emphasizes partnerships between municipalities. I believe that the actions that Strathmore took and the way that the decision was made did not properly involve the municipalities and that there was not the dialogue and the process that should have taken place," said Burke, speaking from his position as Mayor of Rockyford.
This whole thing won't shake out until the split is complete in January, but now is the time to make councillors aware of what you consider indispensable. The split is done, good or bad. But the future programming is determined by you.