NO RISE: Warwick Senior Citizen’s president Joe Owens is frustrated at the council over possible increases in the group’s lease fees.
NO RISE: Warwick Senior Citizen’s president Joe Owens is frustrated at the council over possible increases in the group’s lease fees. File

Lease fees may rise for Southern Downs community groups

A DECISION on whether to increase lease fees for community groups is expected to draw a packed public gallery at a meeting of the Southern Downs Regional Council today.

Members of the Stanthorpe and Warwick senior citizens will pack the gallery today in a show of force against any increases.

Community groups can expect to see some increase in their lease fees.

Councillors will decide whether to bump up fees to $750 per year or bring in a minimum fee of $250 for organisations.

The minimum fee would have additional charges of up to $10 for each financial member in the community group.

Initially the council put in a place a $750 fee policy, but councillors voted to review it after a public backlash at the last meeting.

There is believed to be a split down the middle of the council, with some councillors supporting the rise and others calling for lease fees to stay the same or be dropped.

Cr Jamie Mackenzie said he had never supported an increase.

"There is no way council can justify such large increases especially without prior discussion involving the lessees," he said.

"The annual fees are for administration but lease agreements are signed for much longer terms.

"So how can council charge high fees for non-for-profit community organisations on shoe-string budgets doing good things for the region?"

"From research, surrounding and similarly-sized councils all charge virtually nothing for lease fees to community groups which are after all low-cost caretakers of council properties."

The council will meet at the Stanthorpe council chambers today from 9am.



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