Council wavers on bill
Friday, 30th January, 2015
By Erica Visser
A major mining symposium’s approved request to waive an overdue $3500 bill to City Council has been called “a little bit cheeky”.
Organisers of the annual event, which brings hundreds of mining magnates to Broken Hill each May, had dodged the payment for three-day hire of the Civic Centre for nearly a year.
The $3420 will now be written off after Council this week reversed a decision made before last year’s symposium.
Symposium CEO Kerry Stevenson said the event had run at a loss last year and asked the bill be written off to ensure its continuation in Broken Hill.
“I believe that in years to come the symposium will grow and develop, the industry will recover and the event will become profitable,” she said in a letter to Council.
“In the meantime I have not taken any funds from the event for my time and overhead costs in order to ensure that the event survives and one day thrives.”
Council had already provided $2500 in in-kind support in 2014 and will once again look to provide support this year.
Councillor Bob Algate, who in 2013 moved the motion to charge for the venue’s hire, spoke out against the waiver on Wednesday night.
“They’re really coming back for the balance of what we didn’t give them last time,” he said.
Fellow independent Cr Christine Adams agreed wholeheartedly.
“To see the bill not paid off and then come back...We’re not talking about a charitable organisation.”
But Mayor Wincen Cuy insisted organisers were not holding Council to ransom.
“It’s a commonsense approach we’ve undertaken. There wouldn’t be a better place to hold a mining symposium than Broken Hill.”
The waiver brought up concerns over the vast number of waived venue hire charges going before Council.
In-kind support is provided for many functions that are held at the Civic Centre, which Council hopes will soon receive government funding for a major revamp.
Cr Peter Black noted that local schools were “the only ones paying their way” when it came to the hiring the hall.
He argued that the overall hire policy be reviewed and independent Cr Jim Richards agreed this should be made a matter of priority.
“Organisations have to make a business case. Some events generate more income, some don’t make any,” Cr Richards said yesterday.
“Council also needs to develop a bit of a strategy around event sponsorship and charity events.
“Our budget for charity is used up pretty quickly. That’s unfortunate because people who apply later (in the financial year) often miss out when they’ve still got worthy causes.
“Perhaps we can look at a more equitable policy for the venue hire for charity events, such as a discounted fee.”