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Editorial April 24th 2020

Welcome to this week’s editorial, The decision has been handed down and it is now all systems go for Eurobodalla Council to move ahead with their Mackay Park $60m 25m pool and 350 seat theaterette to be built as a “Gateway” edifice for Batemans Bay. Initially estimated to cost around $49 million dollars the final figure for the build still remains unknown however many are speculating it will be in excess of $60 million and will cost ratepayers and estimated $2 million per year. The reason for the speculation is that the Council decided some time ago to block public access and any documents that might speculate on estimated turnstyle incomes and overheads. The General Manager has continued to resist any moves to reveal the Financial Business Plan to the public, going to such extremes as to refuse Freedom of Information requests made by the public. The original “thumbnail dipped in tar” estimate revealed that the proposed project, once up and running, would lose around $700,000 per year, even after applying very questionable attendance figures. The theatre alone projected a loss of $300,000 per year, even after speculation it would hold six sell out performances carrying over six nights each. The annual depreciation alone for such a building will be in the order of $1.2m per year. While the Council holds $51m from State and federal funding there is a shortfall that has been calculated by a quantity surveyor. The Councillors know what the estimate is however that is SECRET. Once they learnt of the shortfall in funds they decided to call it a THE GAP figure and then went into a huddle to determine what they would sell to fill the THE GAP. Around $10 million dollars that will most likely comprise the Information Centre, the Batemans Bay Community Centre, the $1.2 million form the sale of the Moruya Racecourse and the sale of parks and reserves that have been identified as “surplus to need”. But that is speculation because Councillors are not allowed to tell the public what public assets they intend to sell to pay for THE GAP.

Councillors - Please Mind The Gap So now the approved project can go to tender with the tenders knowing that the start price for the quote is $51m and that Council has worked out where they can secure more. Once the tender is awarded we will be none the wiser because that too will be confidential, even though it is our money. Next will come the tenders to manage the facility. Will the pool be managed separately to the theatrette? Will the gymnasium be leased out? With six gymnasiums in Batemans Bay already will there be a demand for a new space, especially at 1000m2. Council is currently calling expressions of interest. This too is Council’s reason for withholding the Financial Plan that might reveal the estimated projected incomes. Ex Eurobodalla Councillor, Allan Brown, wrote in today saying “Whether or not the project is financially viable seems to be of no concern to the Council, that is the councillors who are supposed to be financially astute individuals, delivering outcomes for the community that are self sustainable. We'll soon see who the councillors are that who are financially responsible with others money. They weren't elected to just spend peoples money and create future ongoing financial liabilities needing rate rises and other hefty service provision increases to prop things up in an ageing population.” Agreed until next—Lei

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