Pubdate: Thu, 07 May 2015
Source: Packet & Times (CN ON)
Copyright: 2015 Orillia Packet and Times
Author: Dave Dawson
Page: A6


Too often, those in charge of the public purse strings seem to spend 
like a carefree teenager with his first credit card; it's why 
governments at every level seem to rack up debilitating deficits.

With that in mind, the Orillia Police Services Board (OPSB) deserves 
credit for showing restraint this week, opting to follow protocol in 
making a difficult decision to turn down a well-intentioned request 
for $10,678 to help produce a drug-prevention film.

The idea for the film was the brainchild of Twin Lakes Secondary 
School teacher Leanne Young and Orillia OPP Const. Andrew MacDonald, 
who pitched a plan for an anti-drug documentary - which would be 
filmed in familiar area locales - that would be used to educate teens 
about the perils of drug use.

In making the pitch to the OPSB, MacDonald rightly pointed out the 
documentary could help Orillia become a pioneer in the local battle 
against drugs and could be used by other municipalities.

"Drugs are an issue for every community," he told board members, 
noting local doctors and service agencies are behind the project. 
"Let's be a visionary. Let's have a proactive approach rather than a 
reactive approach."

OPSB member and city Coun. Ralph Cipolla supported the idea, saying, 
"I think this is the best money we could spend as a board." And while 
he is right, and while the idea is a good one, the timing of the 
request is all wrong.

There is no money in the board's 2015 budget for such an unexpected 
request and the city's protocol is to consider such requests during 
budget deliberations, when projects can be considered not only on 
their individual merit but in context with other competing projects. 
With that in mind, the OPSB did the right thing, referring funding 
for the project - which everyone agreed had merit - to next year's budget.

"The rationale for putting (the request) forward to the 2016 budget 
is so that council has all the requests for funding from all the 
sources and they can put them side by side and determine which ones 
should be funded and which ones shouldn't be funded," said Bob 
Ripley, the city's chief financial officer. "Every project by itself 
looks like a really good project. But when you start recognizing that 
funds are limited, and you may not be able to fund all the projects, 
something's got to drop off ... It's only when you put them side by 
side that you're recognizing that."

If each civic board and city council judiciously followed this 
protocol, this municipality would be in a much healthier fiscal position.

It's important to note this prudent decision will not kill what is an 
exemplary idea. MacDonald said while they had hoped to create the 
film this year, the delay - along with suggestions from board members 
about deploying social media - might make the project better and more 

It's an excellent lesson on responsible spending, following protocol 
and in respecting not only those requesting assistance but those who 
are, ultimately, providing that assistance.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom