Armidale Regional Council was a founding member of Evocities a decade ago, but it has decided to withdraw its membership, leaving the program's future in doubt.
At its Ordinary Monthly Meeting held in Guyra on Wednesday, May 22, Armidale Regional Council resolved to withdraw from Evocities, citing lack of value for council for its annual investment.
Cr Tiley spoke against Armidale's withdrawal and uged council to stay with Evocities while Cr Bailey spoke for the motion.
At Armidale Regional Council's February Ordinary Monthly Meeting, it was resolved that the renewal of its MOU with Evocities should be dependant upon a clause requesting an external review of Evocities operations, with the findings circulated to all member Councils.
Subsequent telephone discussions with the Evocities executive proved fruitless. Council was advised no external review would be undertaken and a suggestion that council could conduct its own review if it wished was made.
They think they're going along pretty well, and I think that's fairly arrogant."Cr Peter Bailey
At a meeting of council's Regional Growth Advisory Committee on April 11, it was unanimously agreed to recommend council withdraw its commitment from Evocities. Council will decide when it meets at Guyra on Wednesday.
Council CEO Susan Law said a withdrawal from Evocities would have the short-term effect of saving it a total of $320,000 over the next four years.
"However, the financial commitment isn't the primary driver for the council proposing to withdraw from the Evocities," she said.
"One of the things we haven't been able to quantify well is what benefits we get from being a member, which is largely an advertising website presence."
Mrs Law said an external review into into the expenditure of Evocities would have shown whether each member city had a positive gain for its expenditure.
She said council would like to see the Armidale region growing faster than the NSW average rate.
"I think advertising and social media is not the best way to attract people to a region. I think it is jobs as well as a lifestyle that does that, and it's something we would like the Armidale region to be able to focus on," Mrs Law said.
Cr Peter Bailey thought the costs of penetrating metropolitan media was astronomical, with government support needed to help organisations such as Evocities.
"A Regional Marketing Fund that operated in Victoria for 12 years and doubled the growth rate for regional areas was funded by the State Government. It cost them, from memory, about $3.5-$4 million per year," he said.
"Those sorts of costs can only be met by working together.
"Now, we tried to have a discussion about the need to look at what we were doing, and they opted not to be part of it. They think they're going along pretty well, and I think that's fairly arrogant."
Cr Bailey said Wagga Wagga had already withdrawn from Evocities and Orange had 12 months of its contract remaining.
"Our staff tried to have a discussion as to why we should look into it and they were totally disinterested," Cr Bailey said.
Mayor Simon Murray thought tomorrow's vote was significant.
"Council has questioned for some time the value we get out of our annual payments towards Evocities," he said.
"When you can't quantify, you can't say, 'We've had 10 people who have moved their business or their family as direct consequence of seeing Evocity ads.', how do we tell the public that it was money well spent?
"Are we better off putting that sort of money into promoting ourselves?"