Community grants awarded

COMMUNITY grants totaling nearly $14,000 were approved at last month’s Derwent Valley Council meeting. In a written report to the meeting, customer services officer Louise Rider said more than $200,000 had now been distributed in community grants over the last 20 years.

Mrs Rider said applications totalling more than $85,000 had been received when the grants were advertised last October. “A sub-committee consisting of Mayor Shaw and Councillors Belcher and Triffett have considered the applications in consultation with council staff. The recommendation provided in this report is based on the determinations made by the sub-committee,” Mrs Rider wrote.

The applicants recommended for grants were:
Southern Tasmanian Axemen’s Association (to reintroduce wood chopping to Derwent Valley Autumn Festival) $1500
New Norfolk Basketball Association (purchase new uniforms) $4200
Salvation Army (for the fix-a-bike program) $2199.50
Derwent Valley SES (to purchase new laptop and projector) $1897
Westerway Wilds’cool Project (for environmental initiatives) $1000
Westerway Bush Watch (running costs and maintenance of trailer) $930
New Norfolk Eagles Women’s Football Team (new equipment for training sessions) $1100
New Norfolk District Cricket Club (upgrade clubhouse at Tynwald Park) $880

Two members of the Community Grants Committee – councillors and Ben Shaw and Julie Triffett – declared conflicts of interest and left the room while the report was considered. The report did not state whether they had done the same at the committee meeting.

Cr Anne Salt moved that the council approve the allocations recommended by the committee and was seconded by Cr Paul Belcher. Cr Salt questioned the proposed allocation of $4200 to the New Norfolk Basketball Association and asked how many people would benefit. Cr Belcher said he understood the association proposed to purchase about 90 uniforms and had fundraised about $2400 towards the total cost.

“I have had people in the community point this out to me, it is almost a third of the grants allocation,” Cr Salt said. She said there seemed to be a heavy weighting toward sporting groups, which she did not have a problem with, but people had asked questions about why that was the case. “I would like more information about how decisions are made,” Cr Salt said.

Cr Salt then sought to amend the motion, and asked Cr Belcher – as the seconder of the motion – whether he would agree to an amendment. “I haven’t heard what the amendment is…” Cr Belcher replied. “I don’t know what you’re going to change.”
Cr Salt: “Yeah, but I can’t give it to you until you agree…”
Cr Belcher: “Well I can’t agree until you tell me what it is.”
Cr Salt: “All right then, I might amend point two to say that the sub-committee will provide a matrix or selection criteria and level of weighting of performance against criteria in the grant application, with the sub-committee’s agreed funding allocations report to council with supporting information.”
Cr Belcher: “I can’t support that because I’m only one of four on the committee, so I can’t second that motion.”
On the advice of the general manager, Cr Salt then withdrew her original motion and deputy mayor Jessica Cosgrove asked if anyone else would like to move the motion as recommended. Cr Belcher obliged, seconded by Cr Browning.

In discussion, Cr Belcher said the requests for funding had exceeded the amount available in the community grants budget allocation. He said he understood that some of the smaller unsuccessful grants were being considered by the mayor and general manager for support from the mayoral fund.

He acknowledged that the allocation to the New Norfolk Basketball Association was more than a quarter of the total funds available but said it was the first time the group had sought council support.

Cr Salt said she supported the proposed funding allocations but did not agree with the second part of the motion – which empowered the Community Grants Committee to determine the future allocation of funds rather than make recommendations to the full council – as it did not provide all the information required.

No other councillors spoke to the motion and when put to the vote it passed with the support of councillors Evans, Belcher, Browning and Cosgrove. Councillors Salt and Power voted against the recommendation.

As well as endorsing the eight grants recommended by the grants committee, the decision gives the committee power to allocate future grants by a majority vote of its own members rather than making recommendations to the full council.

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