ORANGE councillors will have the option to pull the council’s funding from Racing Orange should the club fail to meet targets for upgrades at Towac Park.
The added condition on the $400,000 pledged by the council over four years was one reason Cr Chris Gryllis supported the funding.
Several councillors speculated about Racing Orange’s future and were concerned about locking-in council to the funds, at last Tuesday’s meeting, but Cr Gryllis said the council would review its financial contribution each year.
He defended the council’s decision and hit back at criticism from Cr Reg Kidd.
Cr Gryllis said he considered the issue very carefully before “reluctantly” supporting the pledge of a “substantial sum of money”.
“The reason I support it is I believe we have too many facilities used for a single purpose and that has to change,” he said.
“If we do up the entire park, perhaps other sports and functions can take place there.”
He questioned why Cr Kidd declined to vote and declared an interest in the funding, after remaining present in the chamber when it previously went before the council in December.
“I can’t understand why a councillor in one meeting is part of the discussion and a few weeks later, because he was done like a dinner, declared an interest,” he said.
Cr Kidd said he declared an interest because of his role as a former board member of the Orange Jockey Club, his involvement with racing as an owner, and because he was not confident of the information and financial statements Racing Orange had presented.
Last week, he raised concerns about the city losing control of the grounds if Racing Orange folded.
But Cr Gryllis said he believed the land would be available to the public forever.
He said the track upgrades would pave the way for the other amenities at the racecourse to be improved and he believed more funds would be forthcoming from Racing NSW to boost the facility for ratepayers.