Another fiery debate ensued at Tuesday's Kyogle Council meeting following the proposal to double a local hub of community services weekly rent.
Another fiery debate ensued at Tuesday's Kyogle Council meeting following the proposal to double a local hub of community services weekly rent. mapio.net

Community services hub threatened with heavy rent increase

A DEBATE to heavily increase the weekly rent of a local not-for-profit organisations dominated Tuesday's Kyogle Council meeting.

Kyogle Councillor Maggie May's proposal to up the weekly rent of Kyogle Family support services, operating out of Grove House, "from $180 including GST to $360 including GST from July 1, 2019,” was vigorously discussed by councillors.

The family support service provides Kyogle with a wide range of services to community's most vulnerable, from NDIS to Department of Human services, psychology, domestic violence support, housing, Aboriginal services, legal aid and myriad of the others.

Cr May said stated the rent increase proposal came from council's plan to sell Grove House changing and council now needed to recover the ongoing costs for maintenance and depreciation of the building.

During public access, Scott Gordon presented a service response to the proposed weekly rent increase.

"Councillor Maggie May did not have any consult with our service in relation to this proposal,” Mr Gordon said.

He further outlined how the organisation's services had increased dramatically by becoming a neighbourhood service, and a registered NDIS provider.

"We also provide supervised contact helping towards restoration, and keeping contact and connection with family, juvenile justice children's community order scheme and a soup kitchen. This provides the opportunity for participants to engage with local supports provided by local people, and provides local employment opportunity.”

Cr May argued the current rental arrangements allow the service to sublet the building to other occupiers, which significantly covered their rental costs.

"The reason you haven't been in contact with you is that it makes no never mind in my mind who occupies this building, I just want to ensure there is a fair rate of return to council,” she said.

"Given the fact it was valued at $645 rent a week in 2014, I want to ensure we do in fact have the capacity to maintain the building into the long term.” 

Councillor Janet Wilson said she was part of the set up Grove House, and thanked Mr Gordon for his presentation.

"Grove House has a long history and it exists because the residents in Kyogle actually raised the money to build it, so they feel like they really own it,” she said.

"It's very good to be reminded every so often that we do have responsibilities to all our constituents and you are an important part of that.”

Councillor Robert Dwyer said there was plenty of services council provided to the community that didn't generate a revenue.

"Over that time, KFSS's range of services provided have grown astronomically and they are all not-for-profit, so the people running that facility down there have a very limited ways of generating an income. As evidenced in the report they don't make much money at all.

"The more the council can assist these type of organisations that provide these services whole heartedly, the better. 

"The General Manager has also said he is quite happy that the ongoing maintenance etcetera, is catered for ... so there is no way I can support such a motion that the rent down there be increased .” 

Councillor Lindsay Passfield was also against the motion.

"I'm not keen to see the rental increase above what needs to be there for maintenance and depreciation,” he said.  

Councillor Earle Grundy admitted he seconded the motion, not because he agreed with it, but because he felt the subject needed airing.

"I would like to see in the near future that this has comes up as a proper item and we discuss it fully,” he said.

"I don't think it does anyone any good not to charge a sustainable rent, I don't necessary agree with the GM that at this stage that what we are charging is a sustainable rent.”

He said he hoped it would be discussed further, for council to look at other organisations who provide a similar service and may not be getting the same financial advantage.  

In a show of hands, Kyogle Councillors rejected Cr May's proposal to increase the weekly rental Grove House site.