DSSAB starting over on funding formula

The Rainy River Social Services Administration Board is going back to square one in the choice of an apportionment formula that will dictate each municipality’s share towards its budget.
One formula already had been chosen by the board but a misunderstanding in the voting process forced it to put all three options back on the table at an emergency meeting here Tuesday night.
“After they discussed formula #2, I had a call from one of the board members saying he wanted the process cleared up on how the process went as a double majority,” DSSAB CAO Donna Dittaro said Tuesday.
The process, which was misunderstood, was that in order to be approved, the apportionment formula required a “yes” vote from the majority of the 13 DSSAB members representing a majority of the district’s population.
DSSAB voted 7-6 in favour of formula #2 but the seven represented a smaller segment of the population than the six that had voted against it.
“We’ve had legal opinions, talked to other DSSABs, we’ve contacted the ministry, and we’ve come to realize that our apportionment formula was misunderstood,” DSSAB chair Emily Watson noted.
Most of the board members appeared to misunderstand the process.
“Our interpretation of the double majority was the same interpretation as the rest of the members and it was wrong,” Fort Frances Mayor Glenn Witherspoon remarked Wednesday morning.
In a letter from Dittaro sent to each municipality, she advised that in a clarification of the voting process, it was discovered the selected formula had been defeated and therefore formulas #1 and #3 would be put on the table.
Fort Frances called the emergency meeting when the letter was received because opting for formula #3 could cost the town an additional $300,000.
A report issuing a number of complaints concerning the way DSSAB handled the issue was approved.
“Council was very concerned about it, [and about] our budget and whether it would change,” said Mayor Witherspoon. “The reaction was that maybe the CAO should have called a board meeting before she sent the letter.”
But during last night’s meeting, formula #2 was put back on the table with the other two and all members once again will vote at the next meeting April 20.
The selected formula then will be brought back to each individual council for approval.
“[Tuesday] night was a very exciting meeting,” said Mayor Witherspoon. “What looked like a very bad situation has turned out all right.”