18 November, 2023
History group bid to reduce lease costs
A LOCAL historical group wants their annual fee to lease its Malanda premises to be reduced from $1794 a year to just $1.
Tablelands Regional Council received the request from Eacham Historical Society Inc which, up until last year, had leased the former School of Arts building in Catherine Street for $160 a year but when the group moved to its new premises in James Street, the annual fee skyrocketed to $1794.
A council report advised that the fee was calculated under TRC’s policy at the time, but in November last year, council moved to simplify the renewal of licences of buildings to community groups to a nominal amount of $1.
“The current licence is a valid contract and council is not obliged to reduce the licence fee, similarly officers are obliged to collect revenue under the contract, accordingly the matter is tabled for council’s consideration,” the report stated.
A letter from the historical society outlined why the group believed it deserved to be charged the lower fee.
Secretary Petrina Callaghan detailed the society’s role in the community, advising the volunteer-run group now opens extra days, catering to school groups, senior citizen groups and taking part in community events, displaying historical images and information about the region.
“As an archive resource centre, we are also asked to do history searches and projects for organisations, council and the general public,” she wrote.
They often assisted council in researching road names, confirming spellings and assisting with imagery and information on several projects.
“We assist community members with history research and give them access to our 8000-photograph library. Our support and help to the community is on a large scale,” Ms Callaghan wrote.
While she recognised that council had budgets to meet, she said the society also had to find ways to meet rising costs.
“We believe that our society has a role to have the archived history information that we document and have available in a searchable format for the community,” Ms Callaghan wrote.
“Without our volunteers doing this valuable job, our history will be lost and forgotten.”
The council report supported reducing the fee for the society and voted for chief executive officer Gary Rinehart to review and amend the licence agreement, which does not end until 2025.
“In the interest of equity and consistency, considering council’s change in its policy, it would not be unreasonable for council to amend the licence with the Eacham Historical Society Inc to reflect the current policy position,” it stated.
“However, the outgoings reflected under the agreement are reflective of the fact that services are not separately metered owing to the use of part of the building by council.
“Therefore, any review of the licence fee should also take into consideration the outgoings such as water and electricity that are not otherwise payable by the organisation.”