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If we build it will they come?


The Beagle Editor,

In Ann Sudmalis' media release that you published she stated “This $50 million project will create 51 direct jobs during construction and an ongoing 17 jobs after construction." What a mess council has gotten into with the Mackay Park aquatic centre nonsense. All over something that’s a low priority in the scheme of things and predictably unaffordable. Depreciation and maintenance cost will be a significant liability on future budgets. The consultants involved seem to be aware it’s not really a good deal for the areas residents and ratepayers.However grants are being obtained because councillors supported a concept plan that seems to have been the basis of grant support. In the Otium Business Case it was stated that the Draft Eurobodalla Shire Council Recreation and Open Space Strategy, 2016 (ROSS Planning) "notes that it is uncommon for rural and regional councils to provide a year-round access aquatic centre and potential for such a facility in Eurobodalla should be carefully considered." But here we are going gung ho down the path that many are now suspecting we can't afford. Who are these 17 people who will be employed?


Source The Otium Business case is very clear and says the centre will be running at a predicted loss of $780,000 per year and that is without the addition of any maintenance costs or depreciation. Council intends to sell the Visitor Information Centre, move it to the new facility as well as selling off the community centre and moving them to the Mackay Park facility as well putting all of these loss making facilities into one single loss making facility. Otium, in their business case state :A net operating deficit of $969,787 reducing to $748,215 by Year 10 is projected. Council’s combined operating deficit for Batemans Bay Swimming Pool, Visitor Centre and Community Centre in 2015/ 16 was $634,591 (excluding depreciation) so the projected base case additional annual cost to Council for Option 1 is $335,196 in Year One reducing to an additional $113,624 by Year 10. Using council’s guidelines for deprecation of different asset classes, it is expected annual depreciation costs would be between $1.39 million. Those loses have to be met by the rate payer and Otium have already warned Councillors in briefings that this facility may have to be heavily subsidised if it doesn't perform. At its core are alarm bells that ring out that there is still a away to go to convincing the community they can afford to maintain such a gift. Ann Sudmalis was very clear in saying "Eurobodalla Shire Council have been invited to submit their full Business Case for assessment". Hopefully that Business case will prove we can move ahead and that if we build it they will come and when they do they will pay enough to maintain the facility without it being a financial burden on the majority of ratepayers who will not be using the facility. Names and addresses supplied

#Opinion

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