Midcoast Council defers decision on next stage of Masters’ relocation
MidCoast Council is to be congratulated on its decision this week to defer any immediate action to facilitate the move to the former Masters building, The Greens candidate for the state seat of Myall Lakes, Eleanor Spence, said today.
“The Council has done the right thing in listening to the concerns of residents,” Ms Spence said.
“Council itself had acknowledged that, after receiving submissions and hearing community views in a round of consultations about the financial strategy, many residents were not just against the financial strategy but against the move going ahead at all,” Ms Spence said.
“In light of the strong community opposition, any decision to proceed into the design and construction phase would have been wrong,” she said.
“Residents are legitimately concerned about the project, and not just the fact that some estimates indicate the final cost for the refitting of the building could be as much as $30 million, which that doesn’t include the initial $7 million purchase of the property.
“Council analysis has downplayed the advantages of a multi-campus model with the three existing Council head offices in Taree, Forster and Gloucester remaining open, but it’s not too late for Council to rethink this ill considered proposal for a centralised headquarters at Taree,” she said.
“The finance strategy for the re-purposing of the Masters building is based on extensive borrowings and income from the sale or rental of existing council properties is speculative at best. The whole project could place council in quite a precarious financial position with the potential of future interest rate rises and the real risk of failure to achieve sales or rental of decommissioned council offices.”
“There are so many other important areas where council could spend the money.”
Ms Spence said The Greens opposed the NSW council amalgamations that took place in 2016 and which resulted in MidCoast Council becoming the third largest council in the state.
“The Greens believe that residents should have the opportunity to have their say in a referendum whenever council amalgamations are proposed and that didn’t happen in 2016 ” Ms Spence said.
“The Greens support councils being administered within a very local sphere and that can’t happen when the council area is the size of a federal electorate.”