By BRIANNAH DEVLIN
The investigation into the distribution of funds from the Stronger Community Funds grants has continued, with Mayor Darcy Byrne saying that the Inner West Council has been “cheated” out of $24 million, which could have contributed to a new local library.
The Inner West Council announced on October 27th that they had united with Canterbury Bankstown to write a letter to the NSW government, along with other councils who did not receive a share of the $252 million in grants.
Inner West Council Mayor, Darcy Byrne, said that the money from the grant that was specifically established for emerging councils and would have been dedicated to “local infrastructure upgrades.”
“Communities right across the state have missed out on vital money for local infrastructure simply because they were not in areas held by members of the NSW Government,” he said.
The Inner West Council and Canterbury Bankstown council have sought the help of Brett Walker SC who will be providing legal advice to the two councils over the next few weeks.
The Stronger Communities fund was first introduced in 2016 and had different sized grants to help councils and community groups improve their facilities. The grant is currently delegated to fifty percent of a project’s estimated costs.
The impact of grants
The Inner West Council received $300, 000 in funding in 2016, which was allocated to a number community groups. Marrickville Youth Resource Centre (MYRC) was one of the lucky recipients. They received the funding across two years.
“Good projects would take a certain amount of cash to get off the ground and keeping it off the ground is usually the hard bit,” said Tom McDonald, director of Marrickville Youth Resource Centre.
“The important part was there was longevity in that role over two years. And it gave us the chance to really build something.”
“A lot of funding out there is based on one year projects, and there’s always the conundrum that if your project is really successful, there is a very good chance that it’ll suffer unless you have some forward thinking in your planning to actually to make it sustained.”
This gave the organisation the opportunity to introduce some more sustainable measures for the centre, which also became education for the wider community.
“For us more is to do with learning to do with school groups, and how to actually talk about how a rainwater tank is used, and use ours as an example, the benefits of it and so on. And the environmental impact of it. It has been good for the community in that respect,” said Mr. McDonald.
Other sustainable measures have been implemented in the building such as LED lighting, solar panel roofing, and the ability for MYRC to install a tracking system to monitor their energy usage.
Mayor Byrne said that over twenty councils were denied funds from the Stronger Communities Fund.