Lacombe County rejects STARS funding request

STARS air ambulance’s funding pitch to Lacombe County has stalled. Council voted unanimously on Thursday to turn down a $1 per capita funding request, which would have amounted to $10,312 this year.

STARS air ambulance’s funding pitch to Lacombe County has stalled.

Council voted unanimously on Thursday to turn down a $1 per capita funding request, which would have amounted to $10,312 this year.

In a report to council, it was noted that while STARS performs a valuable service to county residents it is one of a number of charitable groups to do so and which would benefit from annual funding.

Council must decide when it should provide funding on behalf of its ratepayers through taxes and when residents should be left to choose their individual level of support.

“It’s always been Lacombe County’s position that we might not want to get into that,” said Tim Timmons, corporate services director, of fixed annual charitable support.

Coun. Rod McDermand also questioned where the line would be drawn on which group deserved support.

“Once you get into this area, I don’t know where it stops.”

It is the second time the Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service Foundation has been turned down in Lacombe County. In 2012, a $2-per-capita request was denied.

STARS senior municipal relations liaison Glenda Farnden said the focus of the municipal initiative is to signing up all of the province’s municipalities to some level of annual funding support.

Three-quarters of the non-profit foundation’s $41-million operating budget comes from fundraising and other revenue. The province is the biggest supporter at $10 million

Among other recurring donors are two-thirds of the province’s municipalities, which collectively contribute about $1.3 million to the foundation each year.

To help boost funding, STARS would like to see the remaining one-third of Alberta municipalities that don’t support the foundation financially to consider an ongoing per-capita donation.

The target is $2 per capita but STARS is content with less as a starting point.

Farnden said she understands Lacombe County’s position but will continue to deliver her message to councils.

STARS is striving for communities to recognize air ambulance as a “key part of their overall emergency protective services for their residents.

“It’s just working together to have a greater understanding and go forward from there.”

Among Central Alberta’s rural municipalities, Red Deer County has also not approved annual support and Ponoka County has not been approached formally yet. County of Stettler has agreed to a $2-per-capita annual donation.

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