A Harvey Shire councillor has warned a local sporting association could go bankrupt amid an emotive debate which required a tie-breaking vote. The Harvey-Brunswick-Leschenault Football Club was set to have its five-year peppercorn lease over the Brunswick Oval clubrooms renewed at the council’s January 24 meeting, but will now have the decision delayed until March as the Shire decides a path forward on a co-contribution policy for groups leasing council facilities. According to council documents, the club has been involved in planning regarding the upgrading of power and lighting at Brunswick Oval, with a new condition originally set to be negotiated which would see HBL contribute a third of asset improvement and replacement costs towards the ground in the future. Shire officers estimated the club would need to contribute about $360,000 over 20 years through a new reserve account, though the exact figure is yet to be determined. Deputy Shire president Michelle Campbell moved the vote be delayed to allow time for the council to consider changes to its policy. “I think we are putting the cart before the horse (with) this lease agreement,” she said. “At this stage, I don’t have an issue in regards to the creation of a reserve account for (a maintenance) purpose, but I do have an issue with it being instigated in this particular lease before council has the opportunity to consider this amendment in the current community lease policy.” Councillor and former HBL club president Craig Carbone expressed his disapproval of the changes to the lease as “in essence a tax of sporting clubs”. “The $18,000 a year would in essence send them (HBL) broke, and the club would have to shut the door,” he said. He warned the policy change could see a “mass exodus” of players from the Shire, claiming every HBL player would have to pay an additional $180 a year to fund the change. “I think it’s stupid, I think it’s dumb and I won’t support it,” Mr Carbone said. Cr John Bromham said the alternative view of Mr Carbone’s “tax on clubs” view was to look at it as a “tax on ratepayers” if co-contributions are not required. “We can’t live in the past, and there needs to be from sporting clubs an understanding that they need to pay what it costs to play whatever sport they’re doing,” he said. “I think we need to look to the future with this and I think this is exactly what staff are trying to do, to set our clubs up for success in the future.” That caused a rebuke from Mr Carbone, who responded with “yeah, and send them broke”. Cr Robyn Coleman noted her concerns about the lease including maintenance costs for the oval despite it only being for the clubrooms, while councillors Michelle Boylan and Joe Capogreco both raised concerns about the impact the co-contributions could have on children playing sport. Cr Wendy Dickinson said she was aware of community groups which already had co-contribution structures, while Cr Amanda Lovitt tried to redirect the discussion to being about the lease decision being delayed until March. “The alternate motion is not actually regarding actual leases, funds or organisations, it is about deferring this item,” she said. The deferral was passed 7-6, with Shire president Paul Gillett having the tie-breaking vote. Councillors Carbone, Coleman, Boylan, Capogreco, Paul Beech and Francis Burgoyne voted against it.