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Applications Generate Discussion Regarding Assistance

16 December 2015

The 2014-2015 Annual Report was adopted and a new tourism venture approved however it was several requests for financial and in-kind assistance which drew the most discussion at the monthly meeting of the West Coast Council last night (Tuesday 15 December).

The regular meeting was preceded by the Annual General Meeting which saw the West Coast Council Annual Report for 2014-2015 presented and adopted unanimously and without any public submissions received. 

A request from Strahan Retreat, operators of a caravan and cabin park, to operate guided tours through People’s Park to Hogarth Falls was also unanimously approved, subject to a six-month trial and the operator understanding they will not have exclusive use of the area.

“Council wants to encourage new business ventures such as this and we commend Strahan Retreat for developing a guided experience to this beautiful part of our region,” Mayor Phil Vickers said.  “However, we must be diligent and ensure public access in this instance is not negatively affected, hence the trial period.  I look forward to receiving reports about how the tours are received.”

Five requests for assistance were received in accordance with Council’s Financial and In-Kind Assistance Policy, drawing concern that Council’s budget allocation would be exhausted only six months into the financial year.  Following extensive discussion it was agreed that the policy, introduced in July 2015, would be reviewed in early 2016.

“We knew that in introducing the policy that our very limited budget could very easily be exhausted” Mayor Vickers stated.  “However this policy was a necessity in order to stop the ad hoc approval of the use of community funds and to correctly reflect the true cost of Council in-kind assistance.  The policy review will ensure we can find a way forward in assessing all applications with the consideration that Council does not have unlimited funds to continually contribute.”

Over $10,000 in assistance was approved following discussion, including a $6700 contribution to the Rosebery Athletics Carnival, $5100 to the Rosebery Festival, $310 for the Queenstown Christmas Parade Committee and $170 to the Strahan Christmas Decoration Committee.  Councillors deferred a decision on a $16,000 request for sponsorship from the Unconformity, pending further discussion with the applicant.

$18,000 of the budgeted $30,000 for 2015-2016 had been allocated prior to the December Council meeting.

Other matters approved at the meeting included an Enforcement Policy and an updated Councillor Expenses and Allowances Policy and an agreement to enter into an arrangement with Wilderness Woodworks in Strahan for long-term parking spaces.