Council plays Blocks with our future
Next week will see Councillors voting for what will be the next step in Moving Forward on the Mackay Pork Project (as it has now popularly become known as). What will they be voting on ? Simple. The winning contractor to build the new Centre. They will NOT be revealing how much the tender price is however. Because that is Secret. The General Manager will say it is "Commercial in Confidence". But the Councillors know how much it is and they are not allowed to tell anyone. Let's call the cost to build put forward by the winning tenderer as "X"
We all know that "X" will be paid for from a Federal Grant of $25 million and a State Grant of $26 million Plus. There was also a loan taken out by Council of $4 million to develop plans and designs but they have spent that. All up "X" = $55 million But the Mackay Pork is going to cost much more than "X". How much? Well that is a Secret that only the Council knows and they are not saying. What we do know is that the winning tenderer has quoted a value of "Z"
The BIG Question is what happened to "Y"? "Y" is what the councillors call THE GAP. That GAP is the difference between how much they HAVE and how much they NEED by next Tuesday before they can approve the tender and MOVE FORWARD.
Above: No one is allowed to know what THE GAP is. THE GAP (or the HAM that goes with the Pork Pies and the Pork Barrelling) is only known to Councillors. Is it $5m or $10m? What will be sold to raise THE GAP? Shhh. it's a secret they won't reveal. In a Secret meeting the Eurobodalla Councillors have workshopped to find "Y" (The Gap) and have resolved to sell council assets such as parks and reserves, council buildings like the Batemans Bay Community Centre and to move funds around in various accounts. They may well have even discussed transgenerational loans to impose on ratepayers into the future. They are happy with what they have decided but it remains SECRET. What they plan to do and how much they need is Commercial in Confidence and only known to the Councillors who are NOT allowed to tell. The report to councillors next week is for them to rubber stamp the tender quote "X" and to announce the winning tenderer. How much the tender is we will not know for months to come and will only discover the amount when and if it appears in Council's tender registry. By then it will be too late. Too late for what? After next Tuesday's vote the Councillors will also, without knowing it, be voting - to agree to sell all the secret stuff they had discussed and to move funds around as discussed in their secret meetings and to also take out loans that they secretly agreed to. And they can do this without telling us a single thing. If they put the Batemans Bay Community Centre up for sale they can do so without any consultation because it is an operational matter. The same with selling local parks and reserves they have already determined to be "surplus to use" in their opinion. There is no point the community protesting. It will be a done deal. After the Councillors vote. The next thing they will be voting on, without being vaguely aware of, at next Tuesday is the commitment of the Council, for the life expectancy of the Mackay Pork Centre, to the operational and maintenance costs of the building. And then there is depreciation to consider to make sure they put away enough each year to eventually replace what they have built.
Above: adding to the HAM will be a LOT more costs and overheads but the project is a PET for the current mayor who wants to RUN again and this will be the only thing she has delivered on in five years. FIN says it all. Now there is a full set of blocks to add to the Pork Pies, the Pork Barrels and The Ham in the sandwich. But how many? Council won't tell us. They might like to think it is a Secret and considered to be "Commercial in Confidence" but in all honesty they have no idea. And Why? Because they have no business plan. They say they have one. The Mayor swears we have one and says it is on the Council website. And yes, there is a business plan there by a consultant called Otium but it is out of date, it is for a totally different design and it is generalised. In fact it is so generalised that the company says it shouldn't be used for anything but a moment in time and should NOT be used for grant applications. In fact the business case has a very big disclaimer on it saying to use it with caution. But Council still holds this document up as a business case and, even though warned not to, provided the business case to the two grants they received. The Federal Grant of $25 million and the $26 million State Grant. Fortunately for the Eurobodalla these grants have been compromised and embroiled in allegations of political rorting and both grants were awarded WITHOUT any scrutiny of the flawed business case. In a nutshell the business case revealed that it was going to cost a bucket to operate the new centre and that the income stream was inadequate to meet the running costs, let alone the ongoing maintenance. So when the Councillors vote next Tuesday they will be voting to commit Eurobodalla ratepayers from Sth Durras to Akolele to kick in for any shortfall to run the facility. The Councillors have been advised, time and time again, that the numbers do not stack up. They have been asked by the community, time and time again, to read the Otium Business Plan, to question the projected incomes and expenditures, to question the turnstyle numbers and the bums on seats in the theatre. They have been advised by way of presentations and submissions that the numbers DO NOT stack up. It was hoped that the Grant Applications would force Council to provide the FULL business case required for scrutiny however the grants were not scrutinised and instead given ticks of approval by politicians more focused on votes and electioneering. Eurobodalla Council has gone out of its way to ensure the community is not privvy to the fact that they provided the flawed Otium Business Case with their grant applications. They did all they could to block the community with the Office of Sport application and refused to provide a copy of their grant application to the Regional Growth Fund. Reluctantly the Council has released the grant application it made to the Regional Cultural Fund that once again reveals that it stands by a flawed business case and reveals that the awarding of the grant had no consideration at all to the future financial burden that the Eurobodalla residents and ratepayers were likely to inherit. It is hoped that the community come forward in these final hours and state their case to the councillors. The vote next Tuesday is the most important one these councillors will ever make in their lives and we can only hope they know what they are doing because the community they represent has no idea of the secrets that are kept and only discussed in back rooms "on our behalf".
Above: and there you have it... wonderful, marvellous, moving forward, fantastic and the recipe for a rate rise to cover the centre now popularly referred to as .... Mackay Pork