UNPRECEDENTED: Council slammed for sitting on ‘green’ money
Letter to the Editor
We are writing this letter to express our disappointment at the unprecedented delay in allocating the (Gympie Regional) Council’s Environment Levy Community Group grants.
Each year the council allocates 20% of the Environment Levy, paid by ratepayers, to support community groups to deliver environmental projects.
Applications were invited on August 5, 2020 and closed September 2. Groups, if successful, usually receive funding in October to get on with delivering their projects by the June 30 deadline the following year.
Why have these grants been held up?
Other community grants, which had a later submission date, were announced in November. One group received a response advising the assessment process has recommenced with a view to it going to the next council workshop then to the council meeting on February24, at the earliest.
This means work on projects cannot commence until at least March, putting timelines behind schedule five months. Our view is that once invited, grants should not be held up due to a review of council procedures.
In some cases, this is impacting on economic opportunities for the region with one group intending to use their project as groundwork for an application for state funding for a $3.5-million-dollar project that will improve the commercial and recreational fishing in the area. Groups have delivered excellent projects to the region in the past using Environment Levy grants.
We believe council should promote these on their website by making available the report the environment team did on this spending for 2018/2019. Requests for copies have been denied - at odds with council being open and transparent.
We the undersigned organisations call on council to resolve this issue without further delay to continue with the good work we’ve been doing.
Cooloola Coastcare Association Inc.
Gympie & District Landcare Group Inc.
Koala Action Gympie Region Inc.