THIS year's Canowindra Balloon Challenge has two more hurdles to overcome after Tuesday's Cabonne Council meeting, with funds to cover the event's debts still to face public scrutiny and a final vote.
Councillors approved $30,000 for the 2020 event through its events assistance program, a $10,000 increase on its usual contribution, with the intention of lowering the 2021 contribution to $10,000.
They also agreed to put a further donation of $60,000 out to public comment, intended to cover the losses from the 2019 event.
The money would be sourced from the Canowindra town improvement reserve.
The recommendations were not debated and passed unanimously.
Councillor Ian Davison said the festival was important for the shire and it was something the council needed to support.
"Particularly at the moment the way that tourism is going in our region, it's common in other country areas of Australia that tourism numbers are down quite significantly in some areas," he said.
"We haven't been affected quite to the same degree yet, but there will be be some withdrawal in tourism numbers from the 1.8 million [we had] last year."
The council was going to delay its March meeting to Wednesday, March 25 in order to consider public submissions on the loan, which will close at 5pm the previous day.
But with four councillors unable to attend, the council decided to hold the meeting on Tuesday, March 24 as usual, but with a delayed start of 4pm.
Staff will compile the submissions before a decision is made.
Initially, the council had offered a $50,000 loan, but Canowindra Challenge Incorporated declined it.
Now in its ninth year, the challenge attracts up to 8000 visitors and contributes an estimated $1.3 million to the regional economy.
The shortfall last year was blamed on attendance to the nighttime balloon glow event after only 4500 people paid the $30 entry, 5500 less than anticipated.
The cost of tickets this year has been dropped to $11 for online pre-bookings and $20 at the gate.
To make a submission, write to the General Manager, PO Box 17 Molong NSW 2866 or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org
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