Reprieve for Aqua Energy crèche

THE creche at Aqua Energy has been given a reprieve,with Wellington Shire Council set to instead deliver a reduced service.

It comes after council received 54 objections to the closure, including a petition with more than 400 signatures.

Council’s proposal to close the creche, contained in the draft 2015-16 budget, sparked outrage from local parents who use the Sale-based pool and gym facility.

Members of the community claimed the creche was an invaluable service for parents and carers, and there were no other options for short term care in Sale.

They also said the creche enabled parents to use the pool and gym facilities.

Discussions have taken place with creche users, and investigations have identified alternative models to provide the service.

Council officers and creche users have proposed a model which reduces the service significantly and enables it to be delivered for about $26,000 per year.

When proposing to close the creche, council claimed the service had direct operating costs of $83,000 per year, but generated less than $20,000 income a year. The difference was subsidised by general ratepayer funds.

The Aqua Energy creche is used by about 60 families per month, with most holding gold memberships.

Council has also agreed to a request to extend the employment contract for Wellington Toy Library’s co-ordinator to December.

The funding will give the toy library more time as it moves to becoming a volunteer-run organisation.

Four objections were received to council’s decision to cut funding for the toy library on June 30.

Council received 74 submissions into its 2015-16 budget, which will be formally received during today’s meeting.

Verbal submissions will be heard during the meeting, which will begin at 1pm.

Four submissions were received to support the continuation of the mobile library service.

The continuation of the service was not in question, as council was recommending not to replace the mobile library van.

Instead of spending $500,000 to replace the van, council is looking at other models to provide library services to isolated communities.

Despite five objections, council will defer funding the mosquito program, but develop an education program for affected communities.

Gippsland Sports Academy has objected to council ending its annual contribution of $6000.

Council claimed the academy’s work did not contribute directly to its core service area.

Council will not support a request to provide $10,000 a year for each of the shire’s 10 neighbourhood houses and community learning centres. These facilities are eligible for funding through council’s Community Assistance Grants Scheme.