Dis­count for rent but charges con­tinue

Warragul & Drouin Gazette - - NEWS -

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.

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