Christmas lights ‘money well spent’

Cr SAM Rowland has criticised Council’s $20,000 expenditure on Christmas decorations. In his first foray into public debate since the September election, Cr Rowland told Tuesday’s meeting the allocation was “a huge waste of money.”

“There are services and facilities crying out for funds and I can’t endorse this. It’s as simple as that,” he said.

The money had already been spent. Councillors in June had allocated the funds and staff were simply updating them on the breakdown and requesting endorsement. Some $5000 was spent on street banners for the CBD; $3000 on new Christmas lights for Belmore Park and the Visitor Information Centre; $7500 on purchase and installation of power pole Christmas decoration units; $1000 on installation of existing pole units and $3500 on purchase and installation of additional lights and smaller decorations for the CBD.

Essential Energy replied it could not help with installation following a Council approach, a report stated. Acting on Cr Rowland’s objections aired in last Monday’s

Goulburn Post

, Cr Alfie Walker undertook a Facebook poll.

“It was interesting to see the people responding agreed with Cr Rowland,” he said.

“That was only from the perspective of people using social media but it shocked me a little to see their responses.”

“It didn’t surprise me,” Cr Rowland replied.

The Mayor took a different tack. Cr Geoff Kettle said the former council had decided to “pretty up the city.”

“I supported that and I still support it,” he told the meeting.

“It creates an atmosphere that enhances people’s experience in the CBD and makes it easier for them to come in and spend money. I also fully support the money we’ve decided to spend on the CBD ahead of the 150th birthday celebrations.”

Deputy Mayor Bob Kirk agreed. He said there were probably other areas Council could spend the money on, but it was small beer in the overall scheme.

“We play with a $60 million budget each year and this is less than 0.0003 per cent of that amount,” he said.

“We are a community council and this is being done for the community at Cr O’Neill’s suggestion.”

Cr Kirk argued it was only costing each ratepayer 75 cents to “create a bit of goodwill.”

“Every time we sit down and do a budget, someone misses out. That’s the nature of things,” he said.

“But we can’t be all doom and gloom. $20,000 for the benefit of the wider community I think is money well spent.”

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