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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Cathedral outdoor lighting costs

The ongoing funding of outdoor lighting for Grafton’s Christ Church Cathedral will be a topic of discussion at an upcoming council meeting following a vote against a staff recommendation to discontinue the funding, which has been provided by the council since the 1990s.

Reverend Naomi Cooke, Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, presented a compelling case to councillors, emphasizing that without council funding, the lights would cease to illuminate the cathedral. Over the past four years, council funding has averaged $2168 per year.

During the April 23 Clarence Valley Council (CVC) meeting, Cr Greg Clancy, chair of the council’s Climate Change committee, proposed a motion to cease funding for the outdoor lighting, which was seconded by Cr Bill Day. The motion included advising the electricity retailer to cancel the council’s accounts related to the outdoor lighting and suggesting that the Cathedral apply for a council grant to cover the costs.

General Manager Laura Black clarified that community organizations cannot apply for grants for recurrent operating costs, as the available grant program is not designated for such expenses.

Mayor Peter Johnstone raised questions about the motion’s focus on reducing carbon emissions and its alignment with the committee’s terms of reference. Cr Clancy explained that while reducing carbon emissions was a factor, there was also concern about ratepayers covering the Cathedral’s electricity costs.

Cr Debrah Novak inquired about the implications if the motion failed, to which Ms. Black confirmed that council would continue funding the lighting and the matter would be included in a future council efficiency review.

The debate revealed divided opinions among councillors. Cr Jeff Smith emphasized the importance of maintaining outdoor lighting for tourism purposes, while Cr Karen Toms highlighted the negligible cost in the council’s budget compared to its overall expenses.

Ultimately, Cr Clancy’s motion was defeated, prompting Mayor Johnstone to suggest revisiting the issue in a future council meeting to discuss potential cost-cutting measures. Cr Novak withdrew her motion, and the item will be revisited at a later date.

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