CHARITY begins at home, according to two Bathurst councillors who plan to block a call for council to support the Warrumbungle Bushfire Appeal.
Bathurst mayor Monica Morse has put forward a mayoral minute to tomorrow night’s general meeting of Bathurst Regional Council requesting that a $5000 donation be made.
She said council has in the past made donations to emergencies such as the Queensland Flood Appeal, Victorian Bushfire Appeal and the Molong Flood Appeal.
However, council’s 356 Donations account is empty, so the money would need to be taken from equity.
With councillors to vote on the proposal tomorrow night, it is already clear that the plan is not going to win unanimous support.
While Cr Warren Aubin yesterday said he doesn’t want to appear heartless, he doesn’t believe council should be making the donation.
Cr Aubin said there have been natural disasters left, right and centre since the Toowoomba Appeal was held and, while it’s nice to be charitable, council doesn’t even have funds available in its 356 account to give to local people.
“We’ve exhausted that money and I don’t see that we are in any state to donate to the Coonabarabran bushfire appeal.
“I think there are state and federal funds set up to cater for this kind of thing.
“I don’t think it is our responsibility.”
Cr Aubin said of course individual councillors can donate, but he doesn’t believe council should be giving disaster relief where there are people in place already who do that.
He said charities, for instance, raise money to help those affected by natural disasters.
“We should leave it to those groups,” he said. “People in Bathurst have their own set of problems.
“The 356 Donations account is for local community groups and projects, and we’ve spent it.
“There will be no more money until next financial year.
“Money from the general fund has already been budgeted, so where are we getting it from?”
Cr Michael Coote is against the idea too. He also thinks that with all the disasters in Australia council needs to be careful.
“I don’t think we should donate the money when we don’t have the money to donate,” Cr Coote said.
“You hear bleeding heart stories all the time. You have to have some business sense.”
The Warrumbungle community appeal was set up by Cr Bobby Bourke and deputy mayor Ian North.
Any funds donated will be co-ordinated by the Lions Club of Bathurst.
It is recommended that council donate the $5000, however, ultimately it will be for the councillors to decide on the night.