Council approves second round Community Grants

YARRIAMBIACK Shire Council has approved the second round of funding for 21 projects under the council’s Community Share Grants program.

During last week’s council meeting, council approved recommendations to approve the  second round of grants totaling $31,209.90, with the funds distributed according to the rankings and criteria set out under the community grants guidelines.

A total of 33 project applications were submitted to council, with a remaining balance of $1,162.10 being withheld due to the ranking system, which scored the next three eligible applicants, the

Warracknabeal Ski Club, the Warracknabeal Rifle Club, and the Minyip Progress Association, the same.

Yarriambiack council’s General Manager of Community Development Gavin Blinman told councillors how  project assessors came to their conclusions.

“We score each individual project and then we put them in order of score and from that we allocate our $30,000 from the top score down until we reach a level where we have to make a decision on how much more or less we spend.

“It’s always going to be open to human subjectivity and unfortunately there is no formula or way of showing that we can allocate part funding,” he said.

Mayor Graeme Massey said that while the projects chosen may be worthwhile, there will be questions about why certain projects are favoured over others.

“Every grants programs like this is fraught with questions.

“The weak area at the moment is the subjective rating by people to determine the order in which you receive funding and there will always be the case of a cut-off line because there are more applications than funding available,” he said.

This was backed up by other councillors, with Cr Corrine Heintze explaining how the distribution of council funds is vexed.

“It’s a difficult thing trying to work out according to the guidelines, to your local knowledge, and to your conflict of interest. Whatever way you are going to do it, it’s not going to please anyone.

“I think that the projects that have been chosen are very worthwhile and of course there are going to be some that miss out,” Cr Heintze said.

However, councillors recognised that local knowledge needs to play a larger role in selecting projects to receive funding.

Under the grants program, applicants could register their project a $1000 events grants, a $2000 business grant, or a $3000 community grant.

But as the ranking system currently stand, applicants under each category are weighed against each other, which could see either an event or business grant favoured over a community grant.

Mayor Massey said that the process for distributing community grants needed to be updated to reflect community needs.

“Sometimes local knowledge of groups should play a part in the decision making but its not.

“Ideally, we would like to see this but the current process prohibits this,” he said.

However, Yarriambiack CEO Jessie Holmes finished off the council’s discussion explaining that the grants are still a boon for the community.

“At the end of the day, this is our opportunity to help community groups. As far as bang for our buck, these (grants) are usually matched or even tripled, so that $60,000 usually gets us $180,000 to $200,000 worth of outcomes for the community.”