Corangamite may review discretionary grants scheme

A REVIEW of Corangamite Shire’s discretionary fund is likely after some councillors raised concerns about the groups benefitting from grants. 

The $14,000 fund is intended to support community groups or individuals who may not have been eligible for money under the council’s community and facilities grants program or the environmental grants program. 

The shire’s north, south west, coastal and south central wards are allocated $2000 each financial year, while the central ward receives $6000. 

At Tuesday night’s council meeting, councillors Jo Beard and Geoff Smith both raised concerns about the projects being supported by the fund. 

Council was to vote on a $999 allocation allowing Camperdown College to purchase equipment for VCAL and VCE students, but Cr Beard moved the figure be lowered to $500. 

She said the allocation “didn’t sit” with what the fund should be used for. 

Cr Smith also amended the amount to be allocated to the Deep Lake Recreation Committee to assist with rebuilding the boat ramp from $1000 to $800. He said giving half of his ward’s funding away in the first few months of the financial year didn’t leave much for the remainder of the year.

Cr Beard said she believed the fund should be used to help groups which did not have access to other funding streams. 

“I think if we start providing funding to groups who can access funding elsewhere, we could open a can of worms,” Cr Beard said. 

“We don’t want to lose sight of what the fund is set up for. It may be time to have a look at the policy and refresh in our minds.” 

Cr Smith and Cr Neil Trotter also questioned whether the Cobrico and Leslie Manor public hall committees’ Christmas functions should be funded. 

“These functions should have been funded from community assistance fund and I’m only voting for them because I don’t want them to miss out again,” Cr Trotter said. 

The amended motion passed with six votes, after Cr Ruth Gstrein declared a conflict of interest and wasn’t present for the debate or vote. 

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