Discount for rent but charges continue
Community groups will continue to receive subsidised rental of Baw Baw Shire managed buildings, but not free rental.
Council called for a report in May, asking officers to consider the implications of a new category in council’s pricing strategy that would provide free use for all community groups using council managed facilities.
Council already has in place two policies – a property policy and pricing policy – that guide rental, lease and use of council owned and managed facilities.
The report to council said to simplify financial arrangements for regular users of council’s public buildings, a flat fee of $750 per year was introduced into the fees and charges as a “peppercorn lease or licence fee.”
A set of principles was set in the pricing policy to determine fees and charges including shared use, participation, cost recovery, equity and affordability.
Council’s current public buildings for hire include Drouin RSL, the Old Shire and Exhibition halls in Warragul, Trafalgar Community Centre and the Goods Shed, Warragul.
A number of pavilions hired out include Burke St pavilion; Drouin Civic Centre front meeting rooms; Eastern Park pavilion; Rawson Dunstan Oval pavilion, Warragul Senior Citizens; Drouin Senior Citizens; and Men’s Shed, McGregor Park, Trafalgar.
The report outlined the operating costs of each of the buildings, which totals $65,374 each year. Based on current subsidised rental fees, council receives $19,173 in costs.
Full day rental fees for the five facilities are $286.60 for Exhibition Hall; $83.20 for the Goods Shed; and $62.55 for the Old Shire Hall, Trafalgar Community Centre and Drouin RSL. Half day rental is half the rate and all facilities, except Exhibition Hall, are available for hire at an hourly rate.
Officers said the difficulty with offering free hire for community groups was assessing who was a community group under the policy.
The report said officers identified many local community groups who met in a range of noncouncil facilities.
“It would need to be determined which groups would qualify for free use. Additionally, it is likely that these groups would preference using council facilities.
“If this happens it could have detrimental impacts for some of these community organisations through loss of bookings.
“If free use is endorsed it will be a very difficult policy to roll back in the future. In a rate capped environment, this will be an effective subsidy towards these groups that may resulting in a loss of service to another group,” the report said.
Cr Darren Wallace supported the proposal that council continue to offer subsidised rent to community groups.
“Wouldn’t it be good to offer free use of buildings but that can’t be the case,” he said.
Cr Wallace said the current user charges were already adopted. He said they were heavily subsidised compared to neighbouring municipalities.
“Council is doing all it can to provide community organisations places to assemble,” he said.
Cr Danny Goss said he was never in favour of free usage.
“Free use carries way too many challenges. I am happy with the status-quo and I’m happy to put this to rest,” he said.