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Council split on YMCA

Thursday, 14th December, 2017

By Emily Roberts

City Council has knocked back another recommendation to provide funding for a project development at its meeting last night.

Council’s general manager recommended that it give $100,000 to YMCA to help  with the redevelopment of their club in Chloride Street.

YMCA NSW wrote to Council last month with its request for $100,000, along with another $200,000 worth of in-kind support.

However, Councillor Branko Licul suggested that while Council reaffirms its support for the project, Council’s share of profits from the YMCA aquatic centre be transferred into the Community Assistance Grants (CAGS) and that the YMCA be invited to resubmit its request to the next round of CAGs grants.

Part of the YMCA’s contract to manage the aquatic centre requires that any ‘surplus funds’ earned for the financial year are split between the Y and Council.

About $116,000 is now sitting in Council’s cash reserve which Council’s General Manager, James Roncon, said, was set up by staff “in anticipation of the request” from the Y.

The reserve funds were not required to balance the Council budget or prop up other areas of Council’s business, he said.

He also said Council should provide the in-kind support which would include waiving waste fees, development application fees and developer contributions payments.

The request came at a tricky time for councillors who two weeks ago knocked back a request from AFL Broken Hill to contribute $50,000 towards upgrading Jubilee Oval.

In a split decision Council rejected the request because the league hadn’t followed proper process and applied for the funding through its CAGS program.

Councillor Tom Kennedy said, at last night’s meeting, that Council had been elected to represent the community.

“The CAG is decided on by a small group of people, they are smallish types of grants.

“This is a large project, the YMCA project will be a significant boost to the community.

“Will they be continually knocked back if they go to the CAGs for funding?

“Last meeting we voted against giving $50,000 to Broken Hill AFL, this week it was for $100,000 to the YMCA.

“The community expects Council to spend money to benefit the community.

“It’s about time Council conducts good financial business.”

Clr Maureen Clark said it was important for the YMCA to follow processes of other community groups.

“It needs to be fair and equitable.”

Clr Ron Page said Labor Councillors were “playing politics with the future of Council and the community”.

“The lack of support for the Jubilee Oval and the YMCA is very embarrassing and they have been treating both projects poorly,” Clr Page said.

Clr Dave Gallagher said that $116,000 from the surplus of the pool was available and should be used for the YMCA’s project.

The decision was split and went to a casting vote. The mayor voted in favour of Clr Licul’s amendment.

Mayor Turley said it was about having checks and measures.

“We need to put a process in place. One of the reasons the budget blew out many years ago was that Council were making ad hoc decisions when requests came in.

“If people keep bringing things to Council, we could easily blow our budget.

“It’s about making sure that everyone is on the same playing field.

“Good fiscal responsibility is putting a system in place to go through.”

Manager of the YMCA Broken Hill Shane Simmons said after the meeting that the project will still go ahead.

“Council have their processes and we are happy to comply and work through that.

“We understand the nature of Council and this is a minor setback.

“We’re not extremely disappointed. We will work through what we have to work through.

“What is important is that this project is an investment into Broken Hill’s future. We know Council see merit in the project.”

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