Council fee cuts benefit sporting clubs

By Alex Mitchell

District sporting clubs are set to benefit after council announced a cut in facility fees in its COVID-19 economic response package.

At this week's Greater Shepparton City Council meeting, ground hire fees for council-managed outdoor sporting facilities were waived for 2020-21, excluding light charges.

Council also waived all fees for sporting clubs leasing council-managed buildings for 2020-21, with rent reduced on council-owned buildings by 50 per cent.

It comes after Kialla Park Recreation Reserve president Paul Uniacke, on behalf of AFL Goulburn Murray region general manager Jamie Macri and commission chairman Peter Foott, took a submission to council's special meeting ahead of the 2020-21 Draft Budget asking for financial support for sporting clubs facing tough times through COVID-19.

Uniacke's submission had asked for fees to be waived for the entire winter season encompassing pre-season training, although the extension through the entirety of the next financial year is a huge result for summer sport clubs, who will now not face fees in a lot of cases.

Uniacke thanked council for the support it had given the region's wide-ranging sporting community.

“I think it will make a huge difference,” Uniacke said.

“Council has done a good job, it's understood what we're talking about and seen the impact it can make.

“There's 15 000 to 20 000 people this will affect with parents, kids, high-level, mid-level and low-level athletes, adults right down to kids as young as six. Council has grasped the enormity of this.”

A council statement said sporting clubs had a huge role to play in the region's recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

“It was pleasing to see that council’s package it had developed for the Stage Two Greater Shepparton Economic Response to COVID-19 substantially covered issues raised during the Budget submissions relating to sporting activities and clubs,” it read.

“Many sporting clubs in the region banded together and provided a budget submission during the draft budget public exhibition period, due to the financial hardship they were facing in the COVID-19 pandemic. This submission was taken on board and helped shape the adopted 2020-2021 budget.

“Sporting clubs will play a major role for Greater Shepparton in the recovery phase of this pandemic, and council hopes this support will go some of the way to assisting them in bouncing back from the economic impacts of the virus.”

In a separate submission, Uniacke requested increases in lighting costs be frozen for two years after a lift in price had been scheduled for a second straight year, scheduled to rise from 15 cents per lux per hour to 25 cents, a 58 per cent increase.

Council held off on the scheduled increase for the coming year, meaning lighting fees remain at 20 cents per lux per hour.