KINGSTON councillors have promised to work with the Chelsea Heights Kindergarten to try to ensure the kinder’s long-term viability for future generations.
A funding swap with Chelsea Kindergarten threatened to leave the Chelsea Heights with less money than needed to renovate its existing Third Ave site to include a second room to meet imminent state mandated child to carer ratios requirements (‘Cash swap not child’s play’, The News 2/9/15).
Councillors at Monday evening’s public council meeting unanimously agreed to defer a decision on any council funding so detailed plans can be mapped out to both the kinder committee and council’s satisfaction.
The Labor state government has promised $450,000 for redevelopment works after agreeing to switch $2 million in funding promised by the previous Coalition government to a relocation of the Chelsea Kindergarten instead.
At Monday’s council meeting Cr Ron Brownlees complained council had been made to look like “the ogres” in “a disgraceful situation” council had not caused.
“We didn’t promise the money for either of those kinders and the fact that they were locked together as a double project and there has been a reversal of funding due to an issue that was not of our doing,” Cr Brownlees said.
“We have tried to make it happen by offering a small amount of money – we don’t have to offer any money because there was never any promises made. Any political promises made to us – we weren’t even engaged as far as I know about the project in square one and what they were costing.”
Other councillors recognised the need to rein in costs but also acknowledged council’s central role in funding childcare options in the community.
“It is normally either ward councillors or a relevant department working with a particular kinder and realising there is a need for renewal,” Kingston mayor Cr Geoff Gledhill said.
“In this case it has been in the reverse, which I think has presented some challenges and there is also been a level of inconsistency with who we have been discussing the matters with.”
A council officer’s report lodged at Monday night’s meeting stated anything less $520,000 in council funding was “non-negotiable”.
A letter from the Chelsea Heights Kindergarten committee, seen by The News, sent to councillors before Monday’s meeting denied this assertion and said the kinder “has been strongly willing to try and negotiate and find the best solutions for our community”.
Cr Gledhill hoped a solution agreeable to all parties can be found.
“We will get it back on track and we can handle it in a manner that we can be pretty proud of, the way we have handled many early learning/kinder outcomes in the past,” he said.