City of Greater Geraldton council considers cutting Mid West Chamber of Commerce and Industry funding

Headshot of Elise Van Aken
Elise Van AkenGeraldton Guardian
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City of Greater Geraldton council office.
Camera IconCity of Greater Geraldton council office. Credit: Dominique Bayens/The Geraldton Guardian

The City of Greater Geraldton has proposed to cut its biennial funding of the Mid West Chamber of Commerce and Industry by almost half, citing a budget deficit requiring a scaling back of support.

At an ordinary council meeting tomorrow, councillors will vote to reject, accept or amend a motion to review four existing recurrent service agreements and the City’s chamber sponsorship, which all expire at the end of the financial year.

The City has been a diamond member of the region’s business body with a sponsorship of $20,000 over the past two years, which was cut back from its previous $30,000 agreement.

The new proposed membership amount is in line with the minimum cost for a diamond membership of $11,500, while platinum membership is priced at $7500 and regular membership for government agencies is $705 per year.

City director of corporate and commercial services Paul Radalj reported to the council that “while the City understands it is important to support our business community, we currently find ourselves in a large operating deficit position due to the impacts of COVID-19 that has put constraints on the level of support we can now provide compared to previously”.

Mid West Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Joanne Fabling.
Camera IconMid West Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Joanne Fabling. Credit: MWCCI/Supplied

The chamber has more than 700 members across Geraldton and the Mid West, ranging from sole operators who pay $250 a year to the highest-tier diamond members.

Members have access to networking events and business development while supporting advocacy for the region’s economy. Chamber chief executive Joanne Fabling fronted the council’s agenda forum on Tuesday to plead the chamber’s case for the council to maintain, or even increase, its level of funding.

Mayor Shane Van Styn asked her if the chamber’s members could afford to absorb the lost funding amount of $16.50 each per year.

The Mid West Academy of Sport’s athlete and coaching high-performance scholarship program is proposed to have its $25,000 annual funding renewed for the next three years, along with $90,000 over the same period for the Geraldton Cemetery Board’s capital and improvement program, and $4000 a year for the Geraldton Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen Memorial Trust to preserve Birdwood House.

The Mid West Sports Federation is also recommended by the City’s executive management to benefit from $10,850 next financial year, $12,500 in 2022-23, and $15,000 in 2023-24 for its Greater Geraldton sporting achievement grants, Mid West Sports Awards and Geraldton cycle plan activation.

Council policy states service agreements can be granted to local organisations which provide a service to the community that the City may otherwise be required to fulfil.

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