Funding cuts put Albury merger back on the cards

A MERGER between Albury Northside chamber of commerce and Albury Central was placed firmly on the agenda when both groups had council funding cut last night.

The chamber had sought annual funding of $140,000 for the next four years, but Albury Council only committed to amounts of $133,333 and $130,080 in the next two years.

Albury Central traders group had hoped for a continuation of $25,000 for administration costs and a further $17,000 in cash and kind backing for its annual Applause Festival.

But the council reduced the administration backing to $15,000 and $10,000 in the next two financial years and dumped the festival funding, which will be covered by the revenue generated from the special levy paid by central Albury businesses.

Cr Darren Cameron took aim at both organisations, but was most critical of the chamber which represented 10 per cent of the city’s 4000 registered businesses.

“This really is something else,” he said.

“A total of $133,000 of ratepayers’ money to an organisation by its own admission represents less than 9 per cent of businesses in Albury.

“Any trade union that covered less than 9 per cent of the people it supported would be de-registered.

“People don’t pay rates so we can subsidise the business people of Albury.”

Cr Cameron voted against both funding requests and Cr Daryl Betteridge raised the option of the chamber and Albury Central merging administrations in backing the reduced funding amounts.

Two years ago the council signalled a “desire for synergies” between the chamber and Albury Central to be strengthened.

“We are making changes and the Albury Northside chamber of commerce needs to understand they have to create efficiencies within their organisation,” Cr Betteridge said.

“This is a reasonable reduction and sends a clear message that we would like to see further work done on their part.”

The council has sponsored the chamber since its formation in 2006 and it remains heavily reliant on its funding.

Cr Alice Glachan backed the status quo of allocating $140,000 each year for two years.

“Behind every vibrant community is a vibrant business community,” she said.

“They are extremely successful at what they do and we also know there would be other local government areas which would seemingly give their eye teeth to have our chambers of commerce and their success rate.”

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