Councillors vote 6-3 to sell Dalmeny land without knowing the valuation

To the Beagle Editor

From the outset I need to state that no illegality is stated or implied in the following narrative. Also I have been careful in ensuring that no commercial-in-confidence material is revealed. I have also been careful to not assume any motivation for decisions or actions, by anyone other than myself in my role as a Councillor for Eurobodalla Shire Council. On Tuesday, 13 July 2021, by a majority of 6 to 3, Eurobodalla Shire Councillors agreed to endorse the selling of over 400,000 m2 of native forest land at DALMENY on the open market to developers for urban development. I have a number of material concerns about this issue and voted against the sale. One of my other concerns is around the process: In particular, that a number of Councillors who voted to sell the land may have done so, without knowledge of the valuation for the said land. This concern arises because, when the Staff-recommended sale of this land was explained at a briefing to Councillors on Tuesday 15 June, I requested that we Councillors be advised of the estimated value of the land as outlined in the professionally commissioned valuation report for the land. That request was denied by the General Manager. At the Council meeting on the following Tuesday 22 June, I was successful in putting forward a motion that meant that the decision to sell the land was deferred for three weeks. On Tuesday, 6 July, I put in writing a further request to the General Manager, (and cc'd all Councillors) to again seek access to the valuation of the land that Councillors were being asked to endorse selling off, the following week. On Wednesday afternoon on 7 July, permission was granted by the GM for any Councillor who wished to access the (to my mind critical) information to attend in person at council offices to view the valuation report. I did so the following day, where I sat in the GMs office, with her in attendance to peruse the documentation. I do not know if any other Councillors also did so. It perturbs me that some Councillors may have acquiesced to a staff recommendation to sell off a large chunk of native forest land without knowledge of its professionally appraised value. Indeed without my requests, I believe that information would still not be available to them. I do not intend to nominate for the upcoming council elections, and my points raised above reflect only my own concerns about good governance in local government. Councillor Pat McGinlay Eurobodalla Shire Council Editors Note: The sale of the Moruya Racecourse went ahead under a veil of "Commercial In Confidence" not to publicly reveal how much Racing NSW were paying on their request as they were in negotiations with other Council's around NSW to buy their racetracks and didn't want the Eurobodalla purchase price known. The relevant Staff Report in the agenda papers relating to the sale of the Racecourse indicated that the amount of compensation that was being discussed between the ESC and Racing NSW was not to be revealed to our community.

In this regard, on page 59 of the agenda papers, the reason given in the Staff

Report for this council rejecting community requests for the public release of this bit of

information is that Racing NSW “has confirmed that it wishes the sale price to be confidential”.

In the end it was revealed under a Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (‘GIPA Act’) request that the racecourse land was valued at $650,000 and sold for $1,150,000 How much is the Dalmeny land worth? The community won't know until it is sold and the councillors had no idea of how much it was worth before they voted to sell it.