Red Deer County has balked at making a nine-year commitment to a municipal partnership that doles out funds for social programs.
Jo-Ann Symington, county community services manager, said on Tuesday to a shorter agreement would be better, to Dec. 31, 2013, because the county is in the midst of a review of the Red Deer and District Family and Community Support Services partnership.
A comprehensive review of the program was recently undertaken by the county that identified eight areas where improvements could be made in the way the program serves county residents.
Among issues the county wants to review are the funding model, potential for additional programs for seniors or low-income families, an improved system to track which services county residents use, and how to co-ordinate programs with communities not in the existing partnership, such as Innisfail and Sylvan Lake.
Symington said a key part of the review is an assessment of the current funding formula scheduled for this year.
The county contributes $88,695 to the partnership and passes along $443,475 in provincial funding, provided on an 80/20 per cent basis.
FCSS is funded through a municipal and provincial partnership with an anticipated budget of $2.3 million for each of 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Twenty organizations with 37 contracts provide FCSS services in Red Deer city and county, Penhold, Delburne, Elnora and Bowden.
Councillor Don Nesbitt agreed a shorter commitment was better, but proposed the county sign an agreement ending on Dec. 31, 2014. That would be in step with the three-year funding model FCSS has adopted.
Council unanimously passed Nesbitt’s motion.
Mayor Jim Wood said the county will spend the year working with FCSS to address some of the county’s concerns.
A review of the program — the first done since it was started in 1974 — showed there were county residents who use services in Sylvan Lake and Innisfail, but those communities are not part of the partnership and get no county funding help. Elsewhere, there are services partly funded by the county that few, if any, county residents use.
The county plans to work with FCSS to see where improvements can be made. If no agreement can be reached, the county could opt to set up its own FCSS, similar to initiatives in Mountain View and Lacombe Counties.