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Shire of Augusta-Margaret River to review operating grants as new funds awarded

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Shire director Nick Byrne.
Camera IconShire director Nick Byrne. Credit: Pieter Naessens/Pieter Naessens

The Shire of Augusta-Margaret River could be moving away from subsidising operating grants for a number of local organisations and groups.

The outcomes from the latest operational grants funding scheme were recently tabled for councillors noting the overarching policy needed a careful review.

As a result, organisations that had applied for three-year funding support, as advertised when applications opened, would instead be given just one year’s funding.

A total of almost $185,000 was delivered in the latest round across three categories: community organisations, environmental and sustainability grants and sustainable economy operating grants.

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The Shire report noted the funding stream needed a review, though the Times understands the scheme was reviewed last year to give councillors a greater opportunity to be involved and examine strategic priorities, informed by Shire policies.

New Shire sustainable economy and communities director Nick Byrne said single-year grants were awarded this year “to align with the expiry of current multi-year agreements”.

“This will ensure the grants program continues to meet the Shire’s strategic objectives for the community and any future grant round processes,” he said.

“We continually review funding agreements to remain agile and ensure we are funding organisation and projects which best meet the community’s evolving needs.

“The Shire has no current plans to move away from operational funding.”

The report said fewer local governments provided “operational funding streams” for community groups, with support for specific community-based projects more common.

“Operational funding provides unique challenges around ensuring equity and accountability, and iterative review and refinement of the policy is required to ensure the policy continues to meet council’s strategic objectives,” the report said.

“Whilst a number of organisations applied for multi-year funding up to a maximum of three years as was permitted under the guidelines, with all existing multi-year agreements ending in 2023-24, it was decided that all funding approved in this funding round would be for a single year.”

Mr Byrne noted Shire funding was an important component for local not-for-profit groups.

“Operating grants link directly to our Strategic Community Plan 2040 which ensures we are working to drive positive outcomes for the community, environment and local business and industry,” he said. Recipients including the Margaret River Business Network, Just Home, Mindful Margaret River, the Community Pantry, Cowaramup Men’s Shed, Augusta Community Resource Centre, Margaret River Wine Association and the Regional Producers Association among others.

The Environment Management Fund delivered $45,000 to Undalup Association, while Nature Conservation and the Lower Blackwood Land Conservation District Committee received $49,500 each.

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