Councils unlikely to foot Harbour Festival?s debts
GLADSTONE City and Calliope Shire councils seem unlikely to cov- er the Gladstone Harbour Festival's $70,000 bill accrued at this year's event.
The Gladstone City Council dis- cussed the issue yesterday follow- ing a request from Gladstone Festi- vals and Events manager Judy Whicker for $60,000 support.
The council currently provides $15,000 annual funding to the com- mittee.
While no decision was made, Len Smith and Kim Norton were two councillors who strongly opposed a $60,000 grant.
Council officers will prepare a re- port for council investigating a number of options including a loan arrangement.
Reacting to an editorial in The Observer this week, Calliope Shire mayor George Creed said it was unfair to ask ratepayers to foot the bill for any festival losses.
"Any contribution by council only comes from one source ? the ratepayer,'' he said.
"A direct contribution from council is equivalent to a compulsory levy on shire residents, some of whom attend the event and many that don't.''
Cr Creed said organisers should consider charging admission to the festival.
"The Harbour Festival is one of the only events where you don't pay an admission price,'' Cr Creed said.
"The Gladstone Show, the Mt Larcom Show, the Boyne/Tannum Hook-Up, the Old Station Air Show are all regional events where people willingly pay an admission price.''
But Gladstone Festivals and Events manager Judy Whicker said the idea of charging admission would not only be unpopular, but logistically difficult.
"I think the day you charge ad- mission is the day you lose commu- nity support,'' Mrs Whicker said.
"We would certainly lose the business support which we current- ly enjoy.