A Great Southern council has taken the unusual step of withdrawing a multi-million-dollar application for Federal government funding after changing priorities.
Shire of Kojonup councillors voted to withdraw an application for the sixth round of the Building Better Regions Fund grant program at their May 17 meeting in what the shire’s chief executive has since described as a “prudent economic decision”.
In March last year, the council submitted an application for funding for the fifth round of the BBRF, seeking to upgrade The Kodja Place, Kojonup Apex Park and local sporting facilities.
The council was told in October their application was unsuccessful after a major oversubscription to round five across the country, with the applications from WA alone exceeding the funds available.
Another round of funding was announced in December, with applications closing on February 10.
“This was a relatively short timeframe for a grant application of this magnitude, especially considering time lost over the festive season and, therefore, appeared to be aimed at unsuccessful Round 5 applications,” Kojonup chief executive Grant Thompson wrote in his report to councillors before this month’s meeting.
After discussions with senior management and a briefing session with councillors on February 1, council staff submitted an application for round six of the BRRF, which included plans for The Kodja Place and Apex Park upgrades but not the upgrades to local sporting facilities.
When councillors voted on endorsing the grant application at a meeting on March 15, five of the eight voted against it.
If the grant application was approved by the Federal government, the council would have received $2.15 million to cover half the cost of revitalisation work of The Kodja Place and Kojonup Apex Park.
Speaking after the May meeting, when council voted to withdraw the application, Mr Thompson said the shire’s requirement to borrow the remaining $2.15m for the project was the reason behind the backflip.
“The council have been doing a bit of economic forecasting, and the decision of councillors was a prudent economic decision,” he said.
“Looking at the economic conditions over the next two years, including inflation and other factors, it was prudent to hold off on applying for the grant.”
Mr Thompson said the council would focus on repaying existing debt during the next 18 to 24 months, instead of accruing more debt to complete the project.
He said the shire would be in a “good position” to reapply for funding for the project once more debt had been paid off.