RATEPAYERS will come to the aid of firefighters amid a slight funding shortfall to fit out its new Edithvale fire station.
A new Country Fire Authority station was built on Station Street after the state government contributed “almost $4 million” of taxpayers’ money, according to Mordialloc Labor MP Tim Richardson in May, but the CFA asked Kingston Council for $30,000 to fit out office space on the top floor of the station.
Councillors voted at the 25 June public council meeting to approve the $30,000 funding from council’s 2017-18 community grants budget.
South Ward councillor Tamsin Bearsley said the office space at the fire station is “a first” and will give community groups access to a meeting place.
“They’re going to have community rooms as well as a business hub so volunteers from both the CFA and SES can work from the building,” she said.
Cr Bearsley said the funding shortfall had occurred due to “a few technical issues along the way” while building the multi-million dollar fire station.
“We are short on community space in Edithvale. We will hopefully be getting our new life saving club fairly soon but we have had approaches from community groups in the past around Edithvale going ‘where do we actually meet?’ … [so] it’s wonderful we get another meeting space where we can find a home for some of our community groups when they want to meet.
“It’s definitely got the best view in the area.” Central Ward councillor Ron Brownlees said he believed the state government should have been pitching in the $30,000 for the office fit-out.
“This is certainly not about disputing or trying to diminish the fantastic job and important role that the volunteer firefighters do,” Cr Brownlees said.
“But it is a state government project … there should have been a contingency built into the project.”
He said the government had contributed well to the project but questioned why ratepayers were now being asked to cover the funding shortfall.
Fellow Central Ward councillor Rosemary West said: “I think anyone who’s had their house saved from fire by the fire brigade will feel this is a good investment of our community grants and I think it’s really important we support such a vital emergency service.”
Cr Bearsley said the office space model will mean more volunteers will join the CFA and SES since they will be able to conduct “day job” business within the station and be on site in case of emergency.