By Kevin Werner, News Staff
Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion is asking the city to double its funding or the organization, which was founded in the wake of the Hindu Samaj Temple firebombing, won’t be able to provide the needed diversity programs to the community.
“What we do is valuable,” Evelyn Myrie, executive director of HCCI, told members of the general issues committee Feb. 25 during a special budget meeting.
HCCI officials are asking the city to provide $100,000 to help cover a projected budget shortfall that is projected this year. HCCI is proposing a 2014 budget is facing just over a $4,000 deficit in a $347,000 budget. But that balance sheet includes the city providing the $100,000 contribution. The city had been prepared to provide $50,000 in its 2014 budget.
“If HCCI wasn’t around there would be a big hole in the community,” said Mile Komlen, HCCI board chair. “We’ve done quite well. We’ve been strategic. We have been able to sustain our budget.”
Myrie said she was confident HCCI’s fee for service revenue from its Advantage Diversity program can increase over the next few years.
About three years ago HCCI officials told councillors it was moving towards a self-sustainable budget that would be a model for other non-government organizations to follow. It would mean lower government funding, including the city, to HCCI.
Komlen acknowledged HCCI had every intention of following the model they presented. He pointed out HCCI has increased its fee-for-service revenue to $100,000, and it has acquired an $110,000 Ontario Trillium Foundation grant.
But Komlen said the organization didn’t foresee the lack of government grants.
“We can push the federal government,” said Komlen.
Myrie acknowledged the problem has been seeking federal grants. She said federal funding has “dropped off” over the years.
“We are continually writing proposals for money,” she said.
HCCI is expected to receive another Trillium grant when the current one ends March 2015.
City Manager Chris Murray said there have been discussions with HCCI officials to see if there is a better way to provide sustainable funding to the organization.
Mountain councillor Terry Whitehead says the city needs to make sure the funding it provides to groups does what it needs to do.
“Taxpayers want to see value for money,” he said. “I know (HCCI) does wonderful stuff. We need to measure it.”
He said if the city doesn’t monitor how funding is provided, then Hamilton“is just handing dollars out.”
Other councillors say other groups that have an interest in improving the newcomer community are also asking for city funding. Politicians agreed to a recommendation to take an inventory of all the groups that helps immigrant groups within the city.
HCCI was created in 2006 out of the Strengthening Hamilton Community Initiative, which was formed out of the temple destruction in 2001.
HCCI’s mandate is to initiate programs that promote equity and create a welcoming and inclusive environment, share training and education resources. The organization also supports newcomer immigrant and the refugee community.