Corangamite Shire passes budget amid concerns raised over funding for Cobden Spring Festival

RELATED: Corangamite cuts debt in draft 2017-18 budget

TWO Corangamite councillors are concerned how funds are allocated to community events after an additional $1000 was granted to a festival.

Councillors voted 5-2 to approve the 2017-18 budget on Tuesday night with councillor Ruth Gstrein moving an amended motion to ensure the Cobden Spring Festival received the addition support on top of the allocated $2000.

Councillors Bev McArthur and Neil Trotter said they could not support the amendment and were disappointed it had been put forward so late in the budget process.

FUN: Kryschelle, 3, and Eyesha Kelly, 9 from Purnim, hang on tight as they spin on one of the rides at the Cobden Spring Festival in 2016. Picture: Amy Paton

FUN: Kryschelle, 3, and Eyesha Kelly, 9 from Purnim, hang on tight as they spin on one of the rides at the Cobden Spring Festival in 2016. Picture: Amy Paton

Cr McArthur said although it was only an additional $1000 for the Cobden event she couldn’t support it on principle. “We’ve had considerable opportunity to debate the issue in the lead up to this finalisation of the budget and that was what was agreed to,” she said.

Cr McArthur said the council had been generous to Cobden in recent times. “I frankly think that we had the time to discuss what we should allocate to the Cobden Spring Festival," she said. “I personally am very concerned about the process of how we allocate money to events and did move recently that we have a policy on it that is totally transparent.”

Cr Bev McArthur

Cr Bev McArthur

Cr McArthur said the policy needed to be open to everyone and there needed to be a set criteria on how the community event benefited the entire community and what economic benefits there were for the shire.

Mayor Jo Beard welcomed the amendment and said the festival was not a niche event and it serviced all facets of demographics.

She said the Cobden Orchid Club drew about 350 to 400 people to the town and they worked with the festival to make both events a success. “I’m not one to keep tabs on what happens in each town or in each ward for that matter,” she said. 

“I certainly do like to know that once you’re on Corangamite Shire Council, regardless of where you come from, you want the best outcome for the entire region.”

Councillor Helen Durant also supported the amendment and said she believed it was important to have an open mind and be willing change your mind if need be. 

“I think over many years there is a balance that we need to keep and at the end of the day we’re all here to do the best for our communities, and some years there’s ups and some years there’s downs but I don’t think anyone would sit here deliberately trying to get the best just for our little pocket,” Cr Durant said.

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