Geraldton council pulls out of funding for organisations

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Elise Van AkenGeraldton Guardian
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The City of Greater Geraldton's administation centre and Council chambers on Cathedral Avenue.
Camera IconThe City of Greater Geraldton's administation centre and Council chambers on Cathedral Avenue. Credit: Geoff Vivian

The City of Greater Geraldton Council has voted to pull funding agreements with two Mid West organisations and downgrade its sponsorship of a third in a bid to save money and level the playing field for groups seeking funding.

In a tight vote of seven to five, the council on Tuesday adopted the executive recommendation to phase out annual funding for the Mid West Academy of Sport of $25,000 and the requested varying rates of $10,00-$15,000 for the Mid West Sports Federation, when the existing agreements expire at the end of the financial year.

The council will instead provide the academy $12,500 for its athlete and coaching high performance scholarship program and $5000 to the federation for its Greater Geraldton Sporting Achievement Grants, Mid West Sports Awards and Geraldton Cycle Plan Activation in the 2021-22 budget before ceasing recurring funding.

It will also no longer sponsor the Mid West Chamber of Commerce for $20,000 a year, instead buying a regular diamond membership with the chamber for $11,500 annually. The Geraldton Cemetery Board’s request to continue its annual service agreement of $30,000 for its capital improvement was approved, while the Geraldton Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen Memorial Trust will continue to receive $4000 a year for the preservation of Birdwood House, with both agreements to be reviewed after 2023-24.

Cr Steve Douglas moved the item, saying while the three organisations played an important role, it was not within the scope of the City to support them indefinitely.

“If we didn’t continue to support (the Cemetery and Birdwood House) and for some reason those organisations went bust...the City would have to assume that responsibility,” he said.

I need to stress that the Mid West Sports Federation, Mid West Sports Academy and the Mid West Chamber of Commerce do play an important, like many other organisations, do play an important role in our community.

“An underlying principal of the City’s service agreements is that the organisation provides a service that the City may otherwise have to provide...That is not the case with some of the others.”

“All the organisations involved have had a really good run...but it’s time for them to become self-supporting like Yamatji Arts, the tennis, the cricket and all those other organisations.

“Importantly all of the organisations have been given a transition year...they can plan accordingly.”

Cr Victor Tanti spoke against the motion, saying despite agreeing with the most of its parts, he did not agree with the executive recommendation applying to the MWSF.

“The Mid West Sports Federation is an umbrella body that incorporates every sport in Geraldton...they do a lot of work,” he said.

In Geraldton we’re very proud of the many excellent sportspeople we have produced, AFL players amongst them, Olympians, Commonwealth Games participants...but for those juniors to progress in their sports they generally have to go to Perth.

“The Mid West Sports Federation makes that happen and for that reason Mr Mayor I am against the motion.”

Cr Peter Fiorenza spoke against the motion, saying the agreements and organisations were so different they should not have been considered in one item.

“The machinations that have gone into the various arrangements that have been made it what is muddying the waters,” he said.

All of these organisations do wonderful jobs...but the arrangements seem to be so different that I do not feel we can look at them in one chunk.

Mayor Shane Van Styn said the City’s move towards assessing grants for community groups provided more equitable opportunities.

“There needs to be equality and equity for all sporting organisations to apply, and that is what we have gone to a great deal of length to get the community grants project up and going,” he said.

What we’re trying to do is ensure equity and a valid way to evaluate programs and how they are funded.

The groups will be allowed to apply for other CGG community grants, subject to eligibility criteria.

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