Merrickville-Wolford council voted last Monday to contribute $600 towards the Korea Day luncheon that happened on November 16. The $600 was a request from the Chamber of Commerce, which had been turned down in a previous meeting. It was brought up again at the last council meeting at the request of the Industry, Economic Development and Tourism Advisory Committee, which urged the Council to reconsider contributing to the event.
The lunch, which was attended by members of the South Korean Embassy (including the Ambassador), members of council, staff, business people, and retired diplomats who live in the Village, totalled 45 people and cost $2,016. The Chamber of Commerce also spent money on signage and decorating the Village with South Korean flags, which brought the cost up to $2500. Right now, the Chamber of Commerce is prepared to foot the bill, but would still like to see the municipality contribute the $600 to supplement the cost. “We always felt that this was a village to village program,” a Chamber of Commerce representative told council at the meeting. “This was not just a chamber show.”
Councillor Steve Ireland was the first to express his willingness to support the $600 request. “I’m prepared to vote in favour of allocating the $600 as a sign of good will, in hopes of getting better cooperation between the Village and the Chamber,” he said at the meeting.
Other councillors were not so keen, including Deputy Mayor Ann Barr who expressed her concern over the cost of the lunch. “Based on the number of $2,500 for 45 people, that’s a $55.50 lunch per person,” she said. “That’s an expensive lunch.” She went on to say that, if they were going to make a habit of supporting events like this, they needed to put some mechanisms in place to control cost and share the business with more restaurants in the community. Councillor Kim Weedmark also expressed his concern, pointing out that, after going over the 2018 budget earlier in the meeting, there were lots of other areas to consider when choosing where to allocate the funds.
In the end, the resolution came down to a recorded vote, with everyone in attendance voting for contributing the $600, except for Councillor Weedmark and Deputy Mayor Barr. CAO John Regan says that, because this money was not in the budget, it they will likely go over budget in meeting expenses to cover the cost. “Going forward in the operational budget, you will see a new line item that surrounds these types of events,” the CAO said. “It can be discussed in the next budget meeting as to whether you want to allocate money going forward to these types of events.”