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Editorial August 9th 2019

Welcome to this week’s editorial, Why is Eurobodalla is up for sale? And why is this Council hell bent on selling the farm?

Next week will see Council voting to sell the Moruya Racecourse to Racing NSW. In late July 2019, a potentially acceptable price was proposed. Although not legislatively required Council has decided to provide the community with the opportunity to comment on the sale of the Moruya Racecourse. What we do know is that the market value of the land was assessed by a registered valuer in January 2019. How much would you expect Council to sell it for? If you guessed around $1.5m you would be in the ball park.

Why are they selling it? Council says the rent received from the lease to Moruya Jockey Club is reinvested back into the racecourse. The proposed sale price includes consideration of the value of the land and the assets of which a significant proportion of the funding for the building and improvements at the racecourse was provided by grants administered under Racing NSW. Having such an asset that contributes no income to the community is seen by the bean counters as not good business so they put forward, in recommending the sale, that the removal of the depreciation expenses is anticipated to improve Council’s operating surplus.

Council, at the same meeting will be selling land at Pioneer Place in Moruya. This land was dedicated as Community Open Space when the subdivision was first created, demanded by the Council of the developer, with the intention of giving the residents open recreation space.

At the Ordinary Council Meeting held on 24 July 2012 (Minute No 12/187), the subject site, together with a number of parcels of Council land were reclassified from community to operational land having been identified through a land audit conducted by Council and were recognised as being surplus to community needs.

Council has identified public reserves like this across the whole shire and is now in a process of selling them off one by one. The outcry from the community is being all but ignored as Council advise the land sales generate income to build and maintain regional parks and facilities where the community can drive to if they want to enjoy open space. Presently Council is in the process of divesting itself of parks in Pretty Point, Broulee and Sth Durras with more to follow.

Anyone want to buy a Community Centre in Batemans Bay. It is in excellent condition, has a full commercial kitchen that can be hired out to a community service group and has a hall and meeting rooms that are solidly booked that would attract a profit to any investor. Council want to sell this as well.

So the big question is when will they sell the Moruya Airport? The airport was established in 1942 by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as RAAF Base Moruya. Three runways were laid out adjacent to the mouth of the Moruya River. Moruya was home to No. 11 Operational Base Unit to provide support for RAAF aircraft utilising the airfield. During the 1960s, the aerodrome underwent major upgrades with the addition of radio navigation aids, runway lighting and improvements to accommodate larger aircraft.

In 1991 with the introduction of the Local Ownership Plan, the Eurobodalla Shire Council accepted full responsibility for the control and operation of the aerodrome

Recently two successful grant applications to the NSW and Australian Governments have yielded funding commitments of $7.1 million that has seen considerable upgrade of the facility however with a continuing net loss of $218,000 (2018) the airport is costing the ratepayers and, following the lead now set in the sale of the Moruya Racecourse, should also be sold, especially in terms of the considerable depreciation it adds to Council’s bottom line.

Blind Freddy can see it coming. It is only a matter of time. Meanwhile the Great Eurobodalla SellOff continues.

Until next Lei

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