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Council reports on annual budget

With a projected budget of nearly $63 million for the next fiscal year, the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake (MCK)’s newly released annual report outlines Council’s priorities as it looks to pivot to accountability.

That figure is up nearly $6 million from the previous year.

To explain exactly where those funds are going, the council has released its annual report for the 2021-22 fiscal year. The report provides details of audited expenses and projected budgets, as well as details about the soon-to-be-announced new strategic plan. 

The 2017-22 strategic plan came to an end on March 31, 2022, and the transition to a new one has been led by the input of community members, MCK employees, and community organizations, who were consulted during engagement sessions. 

As the community prepares for the adoption of a new five-year strategic plan, MCK executive director Onerahtókha Marquis explained that accountability will be a key facet of MCK’s process going forward.

“Organizational accountability will be an overarching theme, and we’ll also be focusing on enhancing the political administrative alignment, in order to support collective interests,” Marquis said. “You’ll also see themes around developing capacity and enhancing operational effectiveness, as well as building stronger communication and engagement processes, not only within the organization itself but with the community members as well.”

Marquis also noted the plan will involve strategies to ensure workforce culture improves within the MCK, with all goals leading to the ultimate goal of providing high quality services to community members. 

In terms of audited expenses from the past year, most programs spent relatively close to their projected expenses from the previous year’s report. Some programs also spent significantly less than projected, such as MCK Transport, which was projected to spend $855,669 but instead spent $766,171. 

Other services spent significantly more than projected – for instance, the sports complex’s snack bar was projected to cost $52,798 but instead cost $61,259. 

However, it’s important to look at the bigger picture, because while the Sports and Recreation Unit went over budget on the snack bar, they did not go over their total projected budget. 

Other notable projections included in the housing department, where projected budgets for community housing renovations are at $100,000 – up from the $57,000 audited last fiscal year. Similarly, housing repairs are projected to have a budget of $265,102, significantly bigger than last year’s audited expenses of $1,463.

“The money is being allocated towards rentals that we have. The council has a bunch of rentals that haven’t really been updated in years,” said MCK chief Lindsay LeBorgne. “We’re much more comfortable allocating money to do things, so we’ve hired a few people that are dedicated to just renovating apartments and bringing them up to code, so to speak.”

Marquis explained that the $948,094 overall audited expenses for housing are significantly less than the projected budget of $2,677,987 as a result of services being limited during the pandemic. 

“People weren’t applying for mortgages during the pandemic, so that’s why there was such a small amount budgeted for new construction,” she said. Marquis also explained that the maximum mortgage the MCK can give out is $175,000. 

The increase in budget for new construction in community housing is therefore reflective of more projected mortgage requests. “We’re projecting based on a realistic timeline that we have, but that specific line item relates to the amount of mortgages we forecast coming in.”

Other aspects of the report have less specific detail – information about the Kahnawake Environment Protection Office (KEPO) is limited, with most of the projected budget left blank. LeBorgne explained that this is due to the difficulties of estimating the cost of projects related to environmental issues. 

“In terms of climate change, there’s lots of things included in that, so you could be trying to save wetlands, forests, water, rivers. It’s hard to put a number on that and to define that,” said LeBorgne. 

Marquis also noted that KEPO has more unique funding processes. 

“A lot of KEPO funding is done through a proposal basis, so it’s targeted funding,” she said. “KEPO submits proposals either to the province to Canada or to the province – it depends on when we hear back from them with respect to getting approved for additional funding for special projects.”

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Eve is a reporter with the Eastern Door. She has also covered harm reduction and social justice issues for the Montreal Gazette, The Breach, Filter Magazine, and more.

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Eve is a reporter with the Eastern Door. She has also covered harm reduction and social justice issues for the Montreal Gazette, The Breach, Filter Magazine, and more.