Rockingham CEO to investigate why sporting clubs owe council more than $165,000

Rachel FennerSound Telegraph
Some sporting clubs aren’t paying their debts in the City of Rockingham.
Camera IconSome sporting clubs aren’t paying their debts in the City of Rockingham. Credit: chitsanupong - stock.adobe.com

Sporting clubs still owe the City of Rockingham more than $165,000 combined for usage charges that pre-date the current financial year.

The revelation sparked heated debate at Rockingham’s council meeting on March 26 as elected members considered — but did not agree to — a suggestion they simply wipe away the old debts.

Instead, city staff will probe why clubs are struggling to pay their bills and whether council grants could be made available to help them cover running costs and operating expenditures.

They will also look into the practice of issuing invoices for utilities spanning several years.

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Cr Lorna Buchan said she couldn’t support wiping all debt — a suggestion that came from Rockingham’s annual electors’ meeting in February — because that was too general a request and the council “did not have exact figures”.

Cr Robert Schmidt revealed he had received phone calls from sporting club representatives about comments made at the electors’ meeting that accused clubs of “mismanaging funds”.

During public question time, a disgruntled Teresa Ong from Singleton also addressed the “awful” comments at the electors’ meeting.

“All these groups are run by volunteers who have jobs, families and commitments and do these roles for nil remuneration,” Ms Ong said.

“When you volunteer for a committee position, you take the job in good faith with little or no knowledge of the accounts other than a statement of affairs.

“You do not expect thanks, payment or gratitude but you definitely do not expect the awful comments that came from the committee last week.

“Few understood the background to the outstanding accounts … and some also used hurtful words like mismanagement of funds.

“I say to those councillors, hang your heads in shame. These are volunteers doing their best with a difficult situation.”

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