KANIVA residents believe a West Wimmera Shire Council decision will impose a massive debt on the community.
It comes after the Kaniva Community Hub project, which was built earlier this year, ended up with a $351,000 shortfall.
West Wimmera Shire Council decided at a meeting last month to commission a financial audit of the hub, including a review of the past and future financial and legal obligations of council.
Council loaned the Kaniva Community Hub committee $351,000 to pay for the shortfall.
Committee’s Michael Hodges said council was charging an interest rate on the loan over a five-year term.
“The community has already donated more than $280,000 of cash and philanthropy to the project – a commendable achievement for such a small community,” he said. “However, if council continues with its intention to charge interest on the shortfall to the community, it will essentially profit from the hub project.”
Mr Hodges said the hub fundraising committee had developed a strategy and believed the target could be achieved over time, with an enormous amount of volunteer effort.
”Volunteer organisations rely on fundraising to survive,” he said.
“It is essential for their day-to-day existence.
“Such a burden will likely force even the strongest of community organisations to fold.
“Not once has the fundraising committee stated it will renege on its commitment to fundraise, but it has asked the council for time and support to do so. “
Mr Hodges said the Kaniva Community Hub had delivered countless benefits to the town already.
“It has brought community groups closer together by having a common purpose,” he said.
“It has injected more than $1 million into our economy.”
Hub fundraising committee member Kylie King said the committee had been in discussions with West Wimmera Shire Council for some time, seeking further financial assistance.
“We look forward to an amicable resolution to the outstanding funding shortfall,” she said.
Council will discuss the issue at a meeting tonight.
Cr Richard Hicks intends to move that council apply to the Drought Communities Program fund to have an application for $200,000 assessed for the Kaniva Community Hub.
In a report to council, he said that by seeking an assessment and potential allocation of money for the Kaniva Community Hub project, council was taking steps to reduce the financial risk faced by both the West Wimmera Shire Council and the community.