DESPITE strong opposition, Mornington Peninsula Shire is determined to force a massive increase in the rent it receives from the Hastings Cricket and Football Social Club.
Councillors last week decided to advertise their intention of offering the club a new 21-lease lease, but with a rent increase from $4000 a year to $42,000 in the first year.
The rent will rise $5000 a year for the following two years and then three per cent a year until expiry of the lease.
The latest offer, which will be advertised and open for public comment, is virtually the same as that proposed by council in June and ignores an alternative proposed by the club in August.
At that stage, the club suggested it pay a maximum rent of $40,000, with just $10,000 going to the shire and the remainder being allocated to “projects” at Hastings Park ($15,000), “projects/charities” at Hastings ($10,000) and $5000 to the club’s community support fund.
If the club agrees to the shire’s latest terms, “all amounts [of rent] after the first $10,000” will be “partly allocated to … Hastings Park and … to community groups in the local Hastings area”.
The club’s lease – which includes a building housing a gaming room – expired in December 2016. The club has been allowed to continue under existing lease conditions while discussions were held with the shire.
However, it now seems discussions with the shire and club representatives have achieved little, with property and strategy manager Yasmin Woods telling councillors that the Valuer-General assessed the commercial ground rental value at $60,000 a year plus GST.
“On the basis that the commercial activities on the premises are undertaken by a community group, the proposed rent reflects a 30 per cent discount on this valuation,” Ms Woods stated in a report to council’s Tuesday 10 October meeting.
“We know the club is well-loved by Hastings and wider community. It has been in operation since the 1970s and provides social facilities for its members,” the mayor Cr Bev Colomb said.
Cerberus Ward councillor Kate Roper said rent paid by the club under the new lease “will go back into continual upgrades to Hastings Park and assistance for those struggling in our community”.
In June, Ms Woods told council her original rent suggestions were not tied the money to gaming receipts and quoted sections of the shire’s Responsible Gaming Strategy as justification: “To ensure that venues operating gaming machines on shire owned land make a positive contribution to the community.” The strategy notes that “the presence of gaming machines changes the nature of operations of a community club. Gaming machines are a commercial activity that attracts new financial resources to the venue, resources that are not available to clubs without gaming machines.”