SOUTH Gippsland Shire Council has voted yes to applying for funding for the South Gippsland Business Associations Good Governance Toolkit.
Given a successful application, the $60,000 project will be financed with $45,000 from Regional Development Victoria’s Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund (RJIF). The remainder of the tab – $15,000 – will be picked up by Council.
The toolkit is a training program designed with the intention of strengthening the performance of local business groups as well as helping to attract new members. Training will cover strategic planning; governance/procedures; committee succession planning; membership drives; marketing, including the use of social media; and volunteerism.
The program received near unanimous endorsement by councillors at the Wednesday, September 26 meeting. Cr Meg Edwards cast the only dissenting vote.
“I fully support the intention of the program, however, these resources already exist. They’re online. I have a concern with using public funds whether they be ratepayer’s money or general taxpayer’s money, when there’s already a resource there that’s not being fully utilized,” Cr Edwards said.
“I’d like to revisit this, potentially, down the track – once we’ve looked at what resources are already there. These skills are important skills. I’m not negating the importance of the skills. But given that there are toolkits, there are resources already readily available on how to fundraise, how to do your roles in government situations, how to do things in community groups.
“Last week I found six toolkits in one hit. I have concerns. I know it’s not a lot of money – but it is $45,000 in external money. It’s still public money, still ratepayers’ slash taxpayers’ money for something that already exists.”
Cr Ray Agento said he concurred with Cr Edward’s opinions on the availability of the toolkits, but asked, “Are they the most effective toolkits and are they the most relevant and up to date ones?”
He said the availability of the funding was not something that happened every day and Council would make the roll out of the program a “good way to go”.
Cr Maxine Kiel said it was a program that would “ensure the professional delivery of the program and result in ongoing resources that will be available for the business community”.
“There’s no further ongoing cost for Council,” she said.
Cr Alyson Skinner also praised the program.
“A lot of the funds will be used in training workshops and I trust that this will be an ongoing resource,” she said.
The comment was corrected immediately by Mayor, Cr Lorraine Brunt, who said: “Councillor, it is a one off.”
Cr Skinner continued: “The legacywill be an ongoing resource for our community, as our communities become stronger and learn better governance and business planning, etcetera – that’s more what I meant. So, the resource should be a legacy of this funding stream.”