Ipswich City Council’s new Community Donations Program will receive ongoing funding in the 2019-20 Budget, bringing it into line with other comparable Queensland councils.
Interim Administrator Greg Chemello last year scrapped the old “Discretionary Funding” scheme, which essentially allowed the mayor and individual councillors to approve funding to various community organisations within divisional funding “buckets”.
Since then, council has adopted a process of assessing each eligible application received against a short set of criteria and making decisions on funding through an open and accountable governance process that is reported to council meetings.
Mr Chemello said the 2017-18 Discretionary Funding budget was about $1.4 million but, based on the last 10 months’ experience under the new arrangements, the Community Donations Program would see a 2019-20 budget of $400,000 allocated to not-for-profit community organisations for community purposes.
The $400,000 is more comparable to other councils’ community donations annual funding programs.
Mr Chemello said expenditure against the budget will be monitored throughout the year and, if necessary, the budget could be increased if community organisation demands increase.
“Through the Community Donations Program, Ipswich City Council seeks to support the role of community organisations and recognise the significant role they play in developing and delivering initiatives that encourage participation in community life, foster social cohesion, celebrate diversity and contribute to a vibrant, healthy and sustainable city,” he said.
“The Community Donations Program allows for funds to be allocated to not-for-profit community organisations for community purposes, supporting community organisations to deliver initiatives that address identified local community needs.”
Mr Chemello described the new process as a “great step forward” and “empowering” for community organisations.
“These amendments also deliver transparency to the program. We are applying a reasonable level of rigour, which will result in a fairer process; after all, we are allocating ratepayers’ money” he said.
Applications for Community Donations can be submitted at any time during the year. The maximum amount of funding available to an applicant community organisation in any one financial year (whether single or cumulative) is $15,000, unless otherwise approved by resolution of council.
Mr Chemello said the $1 million saving would be directed to other community and infrastructure areas of council.
He said the council’s 2019-20 Budget, to be delivered on 25 June, will prioritise the important needs of the city.
“It allocates money to projects which will enable council to get the job done and to ensure the city is meeting demands imposed upon us all by rapid growth,” he said.
Mr Chemello acknowledged that Ipswich is one of the fastest growing councils in Australia. The city ranked near the top in Queensland in terms of growth and in the top 10 nationally.
He said economic prosperity and jobs, good roads, an improved public transport system and public infrastructure are important components which help the city provide for its constituents.
“It is a progressive budget, yet responsible. It retains a reasonable surplus, yet addresses compelling needs such as the completion of the Nicholas Street development,” he said.
“It ensures the council is delivering basic needs such as waste collection, yet looks to produce a complex business case for a Springfield-Ripley-city rail link.
“It addresses long-overdue governance concerns, yet paves the way for future councillors to develop a more healthy, active and engaged community.”