Clean-up or make a move dilemma
THE decision to raise the fees for the civic centre use has left the Market in the Mountains volunteers and stallholders with little choice but to take matters into their own hands.
When the Stanthorpe Crafters and Hobbyists Association Inc went to pay for the most recent market, it was told the total cost for the venue hire, setting up and cleaning had jumped from the usual $681 to $1200.
"I was completely speechless - in a state of shock," said Market in the Mountains committee president Graham Knight.
While the venue hire for the Market in the Mountains has jumped from $340 to $400 (including the 50% discount for non-for-profit organisations), the major cost increase is in its setting up and cleaning charges.
After previously standing at $155 and $186, the cost for setting up and cleaning the civic centre is now $300 and $500 respectively.
As of last month, Southern Downs Regional Council no longer employs staff to help with these duties, and instead relies on contractors.
"The reason for securing a cleaning contractor is that council does not have full time staff to undertake these duties and needs to cover its costs for organising this service," said council's director of business and community service David Tuxford.
"Council has a responsibility to ratepayers to recoup the real costs of maintaining community assets."
"The fees go towards paying for the building's upkeep, utilities, management and administrative costs," he said.
Upon hearing this news - and with the new costs simply unaffordable - a handful of volunteers attempted to both set up and clean the July 27 Market in the Mountains themselves.
While they managed on this occasion, Mr Knight said the pre-dawn starts and physical demands made the task too great.
"We just can't keep it up - it will be a nightmare," Mr Knight said.
"We're relying on only a few volunteers, many of whom are in their senior years, and there's no guarantee that it will get done."
"It's a lot of work for only a few people, and if it's not cleaned properly then we will be held responsible," he said.
Market in the Mountains has been held at the civic centre since 1998, but Mr Knight said they might be forced to relocate if the issue continued.
He said he had written to council staff asking them reconsider the changes to the fees.
A stallholders' meeting will be held at the Stanthorpe RSL this Thursday from 4.30pm.