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Asset management essential to small town sustainability

Posted on Wednesday March 28, 2018 at 03:04PM

In Saskatchewan, many of our communities rely on volunteer boards to run our facilities. The rink, the pool, the park, and so many other amenities rely on volunteers to contribute endless free hours of labor for  fundraising, and general management. These groups of people are passionate about their cause, and are known to raise huge amounts of money so that the rest of the community can enjoy the amenities the town, village or hamlet has to offer. So great has our community dependency become on our volunteers, that the care and maintenance of the these town-owned facilities are seldom even included on the town's capital plan.

We shouldn't really be surprised. Financial statements from volunteer run facilities are not part of the Town's decision making processes when it comes to capital planning resulting in communities taking an arms-length approach to managing the asset. Eventually, though, volunteer groups are faced with the costs of repairs too big for them to handle, and that is when the trouble starts. The volunteer committee who has donated countless hours to the preservation and operation of the town owned facility feel entitled to have the Town pick up the tab for the major repair. The Town has not planned for this, and it creates a dilemma. There is a finite number of dollars, and several other facilities in need.

Small population communities do not have the tax base to spend based on reactions to crisis. Asset management done correctly provides Council with a snapshot of all of their community infrastructure, facility, and equipment and allows them to plan for the repairs, work with the volunteers to support fundraising, and apply for grants when they are available.

If you are interested in learning more, please call me.

1 306 575 8330

Author: Solomon Matthewson Consulting

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