When MCMC was initially set up, part of the agreement was that Councils would contribute $300,000 for each of the first 3 years, and that the State Government would match the Council contribution with another $300,000 for 3 years. The State Government's agreement to match funding from the Councils hardly lasted for a year, with Melbourne Water and the Department of Natural Resources and Environment arguing whose responsibility it was, changes of government and changes of Departmental structures. DNRE withdrew its membership in the early nineties, and Melbourne Water in 2000.
Direct funding from member Councils has far and away been the most stable and reliable source of income for MCMC since its inception. Member Councils are the backbone of MCMC's operations. Funding comes from line items in their annual budgets, but also MCMC applies for and sometimes is granted community grant money for work with the community in the relevant municipality.
The most notable feature of the graph below is the peak in funding from the Jobskills program in 1995-96, when MCMC became a broker for this employment program. Over the period from 1993 to 1996 MCMC employed, or brokered for other community based organisations, around 200 participants for 6 months each. Each participant received training as part of the program, and many ended up employed in a field of their interest. Being involved in this way in the Jobskills program provided a significantly increased labour force for MCMC, but was an exhausting burden for the permanent staff who had to manage the program and provide training and supervision. The Jobskills Program was ended by Government in 1996.
Another notable feature of the graph below is the emergence of an income stream from contracts, particularly after 1995, when the Kennett State Government introduced compulsory competitive tendering for Councils. As a result MCMC was asked to compete in tenders for work with some Councils, and provided a significant expertise in some in-house bids for Parks and Gardens work. In particular Moreland City Council Parks unit won their bid and used MCMC to undertake maintenance of Council indigenous plantings along the Merri and Moonee Ponds Creeks. Other contracts have been shorter term, and have included major planting contracts, weed control work for the Department of Natural Resources and Environment, open space planning work for Councils, including towards Council Open Space Strategies (Moreland, Darebin and Whittlesea). Since the election of a Labor State Government emphasis has been taken away from compulsory tendering and placed on quality of service, and as a result income from contracts decreased after 2000. Contract income climbed again in 2003-4.
Apart from funding Jobskills, the Federal Government has contributed little to MCMC's operations apart from partial funding a Waterwatch Officer through National Heritage Trust funding. MCMC was very successful however in accessing the Parks Victoria Agency Grants programme, on a year-by year, application by application basis, for carrying out parkland development work along the Creek. This program unfortunately was scrapped by the Victorian Government as from July 2003.
An emerging trend is sourcing non-government grant money, important given the recent decline in funding from contracts and the State and Federal governments. These non-government grants have come largely from philanthropic trusts such as the Myer Foundation (which funded the Making Waves Project), and cultivating these will hopefully provide another significant stream of income for MCMC. Philanthropy Australia is an access point for these trusts.
Note that the values shown on the graph above are in some cases estimates not actual values, and that the values for 1990-91 cover 18 months and 1995 covers 9 months, because of changes of financial year. MCMC has found it most useful to have a financial year 3 months behind Council's financial year to allow for planning, so its current financial year is October-September. The high peak in 1995-6 resulted from MCMC being a broker for the JobSkills employment program.