Sunbury United Sporting Club has been left disappointed that its proposal for expansion and renovations has gone unfunded in Hume council’s 2019-20 budget.
Club president Paul DiBlasi said the club made a budget submission to council last month detailing plans for a $7 million upgrade and expansion to include a function room, wellbeing centre, a refurbished sports bar and bigger bistro.
Mr DiBlasi said $6.5 million was needed from the council to build stage one of the project, with the club to provide the remaining $500,000.
Mr DiBlasi said he believed the decision was linked to the council’s policy on gaming machines.
He insisted that the club’s proposal would be beneficial to the community.
“We’re not banking thousands of thousands of dollars,” he said. “And being a not-for-profit, we do have to give back to the sporting affiliates.
“They don’t understand the impact of not thinking outside the square … it’s something that the community really needs. There’s very little function space in Sunbury.”
He said that those wanting to have an engagement party or a business conference were being forced to look outside the town.
Cr Drew Jessop said the council would not fund capital works for clubs that had “gaming facilities”, although the council did recognise they had a role to play in the community.
“Indeed, there are many different types of gaming opportunities that are legal in the state,” he said. “However, the decision of council is based more on the income generated in … a club that has gaming machines, as opposed to those that do not.
“Other clubs within Hume, and we have been consistent over a long period of time, have taken full responsibility of the costs of such redevelopments.
“And as fair or unfair as one may see, it is consistent and ratepayers’ money is not spent on upgrading social facilities for those who’ve got EGMs.
“One way to attract council funding is to get rid of your EGMs. Then we will consider, carefully, the upgrades to their facilities.”