Warrnambool City Council has cancelled both its annual Christmas parties, donating $10,000 to local charities instead.
The Christmas party for council staff was called off in October because of uncertainty about whether the Victorian COVID recovery roadmap would permit a large gathering.
There was nothing in October's roadmap to restrict such an event going ahead in December, but a spokesman said "the road map dates were not guaranteed", so the council scrapped the event.
"To commit months in advance to a venue large enough to accommodate an all-staff function would have been somewhat speculative, so a decision was made to cancel the event," the spokesman said.
By contrast, Moyne Shire Council waited until November to make a booking, holding its Christmas party in Warrnambool on December 17, although the Moyne event was criticised by some councillors for being held outside the shire.
It is unclear whether WCC staff had any say on whether the event should go ahead, but the council spokesman said staff were consulted on the decision.
"While some staff indicated they still wanted an end-of-year event a greater number indicated they were happy with a proposal to support local charity," the spokesman said.
Of the $15,000 budgeted for the staff party, $10,000 was donated to charity, with $5000 going to FoodShare and Emma House respectively.
"We're proud that staff were keen to see this occur," the spokesman said.
Despite the cancellation, he said the end-of-year celebration was an incredibly important event.
"It allows us to recognise great work, to say thank you and it's the one occasion in the year when it's possible for us to come together as one team in the one place at the same time. So we're very much looking forward to the possibility that we will have a normal staff function at the end of 2022."
WCC also decided to cancel its annual volunteer Christmas party organised to thank members of the community who had contributed their time to the council's operations over the year.
Mayor Richard Ziegeler said councillors believed it was an unnecessary expense to hold the event in a year when so many community members had experienced tough times.
"We normally have all the people from advisory committees and reference groups and folks who have helped out council throughout the year at a bit of a gathering," Cr Ziegeler said.
"We decided we wouldn't spend the money because so many businesses and people have done it tough through the pandemic," Cr Ziegeler said.
The money saved by the cancellation of the volunteer event, roughly $3700, was not donated to charity.
Cr Ziegeler said while the party was cancelled, he wanted to take the opportunity to thank each person who volunteered their time and views over the past year.
"We can't do the work that council achieves without them," Cr Ziegeler said
"We rely on their contribution and input."
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