NORTHERN Grampians Shire Council will continue to support Taylors Gully Children’s Centre at Stawell.
Councillors told a full public gallery at its June meeting on Monday night the centre would not close.
Taylors Gully Children’s Centre’s future was thrown in doubt following a council report, which included recommendations such as selling the service.
Instead, council voted to remain the provider for its children’s services, but gradually cut back on subsidy commitments.
Council will give its children’s services in Stawell and St Arnaud a $500,000 subsidy this financial year, 2014-15; $475,000 next financial year and $450,000 in 2016-17.
Previously, subsidies amounted to about $700,000 a year.
Mayor Kevin Erwin said council was spending about $10,000 per long day child care position.
“This is not a sustainable model and we can’t expect the community to continue to incur the costs,” he said.
Council sanctioned immediate changes to payment arrangements, including a no-pay, no-care policy.
“It was probably one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make... but we do need to look after all our ratepayers''
Parents will be required to pay for the service in advance.
Council also flagged substantial increases in service fees for care, and reduced administration, including a reduction in staff.
Cr Erwin said the restructured employee base could include redeployment or redundancy.
“It was probably one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make on council,” he said.
“But we do need to look after all our ratepayers and to trim some costs out of the service.
“We will continue to work together to provide the best possible service we can.”
Cr Karen Hyslop thanked the community for its input.
“We received 28 letters from staff and parents of people who use Taylors Gully and all of those letters were so positive,” she said.
“There is obviously a lot of passion and support there, so it is really important that we get the message out that it is a great service.’’
Australian Services Union organiser Mark Brady said he had feared the service’s days were numbered.
“This is one time I’m happy to be proven wrong,” he said.
“It is a positive move, and one that we welcome because it means the majority of jobs will be kept.
“But there is still work to be done.
“Any potential job losses, especially in small communities, are concerning.”
Children’s services are among many Northern Grampians Shire Council services under review, in the face of financial pressure from tough federal and state budgets.