Council agrees to new lease template

Published on Friday, 15 July 2022 at 9:38:34 AM

Ensuring all community and sporting groups leasing Shire-owned buildings and facilities are treated fairly and equitably, while providing a system that would account for future and ongoing costs of maintaining the assets long term, was behind a decision of Council last month to adopt a new Lease Agreement Template and Lease Fee Matrix.

While introduction of the new template and matrix will provide a level of standardisation of lease conditions across the board, it has resulted in increased lease fees for some groups. However, for many, this is offset or will even create savings through a former decision of Council to permanently cover the annual cost of building insurance on behalf of its user groups.

In the past Lessees of Council buildings and facilities were required to reimburse the annual cost of insurance, which is no longer a requirement under the new lease template.

Dardanup Shire President Mick Bennett said a pricing matrix was developed by Shire Staff and would be applied going forward when new lease agreements were put in place.

The new template and matrix aimed for contributions to the cost of maintaining Shire facilities being shared between main users of those facilities and ratepayers generally.

“What has become apparent over the past few years as lease agreements ended one-by-one and negotiations commenced with each user group on terms for renewal, was that some clubs and groups were getting a much better deal than others when it came to contributions from Council toward costs like building insurance,” Cr Bennett said.

“Creating an equitable system for all has unfortunately meant some groups now need to begin paying more for use of their facility than they previously did, however those most affected still have several years to run on their current lease arrangements so they won’t actually incur these additional expenses for some time yet.”

The pricing matrix, originally presented to Council for consideration in November last year, underwent some change following consultation with all of the user groups.  Taking into account details such as building and land size and quality, and each group’s function and ability to generate revenue, the final matrix adopted in June, ensures a fair and equitable system for all. 

It was recognised, for instance, that clubs with a liquor licence have opportunity to generate income through sale of alcohol to members. Additionally, some sporting clubs only use their facilities for part of the year according to their respective “sporting season” prompting reduction in initially-proposed fees.

Cr Bennett said Council had made significant investments in community facilities over the past 10 years creating large, positive flow-on effects around activity, health, connection and inclusion.

Highlights have included:

  • Eaton Boomers Football Pavilion and change rooms
  • Bunbury & Districts Softball Association Pavilion
  • Burekup Country Club renovations
  • Eaton Bowling & Social Club & Seniors Citizens Centre
  • Eaton Skatepark
  • Wells Recreation Park change rooms (underway)

“It’s important that as we expand our asset base to meet the modern needs of our fast-growing community, we take a long term financial planning perspective to ensure we are able to maintain and, as required, replace these facilities in the years to come,” Cr Bennett said.

Council’s bi-annual Community Grants Program also provided a mechanism for financially supporting local community and sporting groups.

“We exist to meet the needs of current and future generations through an integration of environmental protection, social advancement and economic prosperity,” Cr Bennett said.

“Part of fulfilling this purpose means partnering with our local community and sporting groups to support and facilitate their work, so that together we can continue delivering positive outcomes for everyone.

“Ensuring all of our groups are treated fairly and equitably is recognition of the enormous value they bring to the community.”

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