Two Orange City councillors say giving $27,000 to the Uniting Church will open up the floodgates for businesses across Orange to seek funds from council.
Council will provide the money to light up the Orange Uniting Church's copper-clad spire in Anson Street as part of its renovations.
Council was told it was effectively the first part of the CBD upgrades under the Future City program.
However, Cr Tony Mileto said he had "some concerns" about the allocation.
I'm just concerned about the council being the first point of call when there are other avenues available.Cr Tony Mileto
"What precedent is this going to give to other businesses?" he said.
Cr Mileto said he was not against the project but questioned why the church had not sourced government funding for the work.
"I'm just concerned about the council being the first point of call when there are other avenues available. It is the ratepayers we are talking about," he said.
Cr Jason Hamling said it would set a precedent. "[It's] $27,000 for lighting a church spire. I know its part of the Future City [program] but I think it will open the floodgates so to speak."
CEO David Waddell said the church did not have funding for the lighting and approached council. "Yes it will open the floodgates and I hope it does," he said.
"Because [in the next few months] we will be going to building owners across the city as part of Future City and asking them to do work on their buildings.
"Let us help you paint them, let us help you light them, let us green them, let us put plants up the side of them. This is just the start of that, we are going to have to get some close co-operation. This will be one of many requests."
Cr Joanne McRae said she supported giving the church money because of the free meals service its volunteers provided for homeless people during the coronavirus pandemic.
Cr McRae said church volunteers had been providing meals for homeless people in Orange on Saturdays when most other social services were closed.
She said the church had provided a "beacon of hope" in Orange.
And Cr McRae said when the plan went on public exhibition there had only been two submissions, one for and one against.
Cr Scott Munro said he supported the funding as lighting the church would improve the city's appearance. "It only adds to the beauty of Orange," he said.
"This is a great use of building the look of Orange. [So] $27,000 is not a lot of money for that."
Cr Glenn Taylor said the church's location was an important part of Orange.
"That area is our most prominent heritage corner in the city, probably," he said.
"In these difficult times it is very important we do these types of programs."
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