Council okays COVID cash – City of Ballarat council meeting briefs

September 1, 2021 BY

Stage set: Carols by Candlelight will return to Mars Stadium following the adjustment of an agreement between the City and the event’s organising committee. Photo: FILE

CITY of Ballarat council endorsed a community and business support package worth one million dollars at their meeting on Wednesday, 25 August, in an effort to provide some financial relief to COVID-19 lockdown affected organisations.

That money will be broken down into $500 grants for businesses whose revenue has fallen significantly during the pandemic and $250 for community and volunteer groups and sport clubs, with the package designed to supplement existing grants from State and Federal Governments.

As well as waivers on a range of council fees, the package also includes the continuation of the COVID-19 Financial Hardship Policy and re-introduction of the Business Contact Centre, and just over $300,000 was put towards these initiatives.

The package is funded using money rolled over from the last financial year.


Plans put in place

Three planning documents covering the next four to 10 years were adopted by council following a month of community consultation.

Seven written submissions were made by members of the public to the four-year Council Plan, while a further six people came forward with their thoughts on the 10-year Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan.

Four written submissions were made to the Community Vision, also covering the next 10 years.

The public submissions resulted in slight changes to wording throughout the three documents, which are all now in effect.

The Council Plan outlines council’s strategic direction until 2025 through six major goals and is connected to the Community Vision which looks to a sustainable, innovative and inclusive city in a decade’s time.

The Municipal Health and Wellbeing Plan lists the City’s long term health goals with a focus on priority groups like Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, the LGBTIQA+ community and people with a disability.


Cashing in-put

A Draft Financial Plan is now available for community feedback until 9am on Monday, 13 September after council voted on their intention to adopt the strategy at their 27 October meeting.

Changes to the Local Government Act meant the draft will now guide City spending for 10 years, six years longer than previous strategies.

Cr Ben Taylor said the Plan’s extension was “challenging”, particularly as it aligned with the beginning of a new council term.

“It’s very difficult for us to forecast what may happen. We’re in the middle of a pandemic right now, what is there going to be in X amount of years from now? We just don’t know,” he said.

The City noted other documents still in the works like the Asset Plan and Workforce Plan would impact the Financial Plan.


Tender gets green light

Pinegro Products will take on Ballarat’s green waste processing after being awarded an almost $2.4 million tender.

The three-year contract is based on an estimate of the municipality’s annual green waste tonnage and council has the option to extend the contract by one year for just under $800,000.

A future food and organics collection service could be worked into the tender.


Carols still set to sing

Changes to the Carols by Candlelight strategic partnership have been made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Originally entered into at an October 2019 council meeting, the partnership was formed to provide financial support to the organisation to hold the December event over a three-year period.

It included a $20,000 payment for the 2019 show, followed by $15,000 for 2020 and $10,000 for 2021.

Because the event was cancelled in 2020, the organisation didn’t receive that year’s payment and the amended partnership will instead see the $15,000 paid this year and $10,000 in 2022.

A $2000 hire fee to host the show at Mars Stadium will also be waived for the rest of the partnership.

Carols by Candlelight president Matt Hustwaite said the event’s new home was the only venue in Ballarat suitable for a COVID safe carols show.

He said the partnership changes “will ensure that we’re able to adequately resource the various areas of developing, training personnel for and delivering upon our COVID safe plan to the required satisfaction of WorkSafe and authorised officers under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act.”


Advice for design

Councillors voted to establish a Design Review Panel and pilot the project for 12 months.

The panel would offer expert advice to developers and designers in the pre-application stage of their projects across Ballarat.

It would have no decision-making function and members would be selected from a range of fields including architecture, urban design and planning.

Up to five panel members and a chairperson would review projects, prioritised based on size and significance, amongst other things.

Cr Mark Harris said he was an enthusiast for the panel but also noted he saw it as “full of risks” and got an amendment to the recommendation clarifying a review of the panel would come back to council at the end of the pilot period.


Committee positions filled

Three new community representatives were welcomed to the Disability Advisory Committee.

Heidi Biggin, Ashlee Shepherd and Vivian Bradbury’s appointment rounds out the committee’s 12 positions and follows the retirement of Ken Gunning and Faye Baxter who served on the committee for multiple years.

Ten applications were made to the vacant positions and the newest members were selected based on having lived experience or knowledge that contributed to the committee, as well as an understanding of local issues for those with a disability.


Numbers rewritten

The price of a tender awarded to H Troon for gate 1 entry upgrades at Mars Stadium during council’s 28 July meeting was incorrectly written in that agenda and amended last week.

The previous amount read $1,773,647 and was corrected to $1,733,647.


Dates scheduled

Council will consider the mayoral term and mayor and deputy mayor elections on 1 November.

The unscheduled council meeting will be held from 6.30pm in the Town Hall.

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