Smiths Falls Councillors remain divided on how much to charge service clubs and other organizations for bingos, raffles and related lotteries that the town administers on behalf of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).
To help municipalities recover their costs, AGCO allows them to charge a maximum of three per cent of the prize board.
The town is currently charging the maximum, and in 2015 it collected $17,771.
That has some Councillors feeling that the town is profiting off of the backs of service clubs and their volunteers.
“I’m not sure this should be a cash revenue stream for the municipality–the ($17,000 the town collected in 2015) is money that is coming out of the community donations raised by the service clubs,” said Coun. Jay Brennan at the Dec. 19 council session. “I think it would be a fantastic gesture by council to eliminate these fees.”
He added that morally and ethically, he felt the revenue the town takes in from lotteries is “money taken off of the backs of volunteers.”
Coun. John Maloney said that he’d be OK with a nominal fee around $25 to help cover the cost of paper, but that he, too, felt it was money being taken directly out of the community.
Coun. Dawn Quinn disagreed. “I don’t know anyone who works for the town and doesn’t get paid,” said Quinn. “I agree the service clubs do great work but I don’t think we should not be charging. Charging less is OK, but there should be something.”
Town staff said Councillors can continue charging the maximum three percent or reduce it to a lower amount, but it doesn’t recommend providing the service for free.
The final decision remains for council to decide and they’re expected to debate the issue again in early January.