Warrnambool cricket clubs will be hit with about $36,000 in summer tenancy fees but the decision divided city councillors at Monday's public meeting.
Cr Ben Blain said it wasn't fair and the city council shouldn't be hitting clubs for more money after they'd suffered financially because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We should be cherishing our clubs, not charging them," Cr Blain said.
"Everybody has been impacted by COVID. They've had downturns in the bar takings. Many of these clubs have had minimal crowds."
He said even cricket in the last two weeks had five days where they couldn't play.
"Hitting them up this late in the season is not fair," Cr Blain said.
"We agreed in last year's budget we weren't going to charge them and now they've changed their mind.
"I can't see how we can do it, especially when our budget is in such a favourable position compared to where we forecast it to be."
Cr Blain said the clubs were run by volunteers and the council should be supporting them. "I guarantee you they can do a lot more with the $4000 in the clubs than what we'll do with it at council," he said.
Mayor Vicki Jellie said she had reservations about the invoices being sent out.
"We're still in the middle of COVID and I feel a lot of those clubs will be struggling financially," she said. "It's a difficult time for them all."
The motion to send out the invoices was passed in a 4-3 vote with Crs Blain, Jellie and Richard Ziegeler voting against.
Cr Max Taylor said if sporting clubs were up in arms over the cost of the invoices they should question the cost with council and maybe come to some agreement.
Cr Angie Paspaliaris said fees were issued because the clubs had resumed sport activity and competition.
"It's really just something that evolves over time post-COVID once clubs and groups are back into operating somewhat normally that this tenancy fee would apply," she said.
Last year, winter sporting fees worth more than $74,000 were waived for 15 user groups by the council at the height of pandemic shutdowns.
The summer user fees were not included in the budget last year because it was unclear if summer sports would be able to resume, the council agenda says.
"As tenancy fees are not budgeted for, revenue will be additional income for 2020/21," it says.
Merrivale and Russells Creek cricket clubs will be hit with the highest fees of $6050.
Woodford, Wesley-CBC, West Warrnambool, Dennington and Brierly-Christ Church cricket clubs will have to pay $4033 each.
East Warrnambool-YCW and Nestles cricket clubs will each pay $2017.
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