Welcome to this week’s editorial, There was much discussion around the Council decision to sell the Moruya Racecourse for an undisclosed price where it was revealed that Councillors were not able to disclose the expected amount due to commercial in Confidence. Both Councillor McGinlay and Councillor Mayne clearly indicated in their debate that they were uneasy with progressing with the sale while the community had no idea how much Racing NSW had offered to pay. Racing NSW had requested that the price remain undisclosed as they were looking to purchase other race courses around the state and that revelation of how much they were offering to pay Eurobodalla might compromise those other dealings. The General Manager offered clarity around the Council’s obligation by citing LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 1993 - SECT 10A
2 (d) commercial information of a confidential nature that would, if disclosed:
prejudice the commercial position of the person who supplied it
Councillor McGinlay was the only one in the chamber who asked the question of what would happen if Council decided not to sell however there was no answer forthcoming from staff or debate from his fellow councillors.
What was very clear from the presentations earlier during Public Forum (that council has now removed from live-streaming or recording) was that the Moruya Racecourse was and would continue to be a feather in the cap of Racing NSW and that they were prepared to inject the required immediate capital required to bring it to standard and to then expand its capacities.
The alternate to the sale would be the rapid demise of the facility, its removal as a recognised racing venue and its loss impacting on local trainers, suppliers and breeders and therefore the local economy.
Councillor Mayne was very clear in his concerns saying “I am so uncomfortable about the amount of money being put on the table”
"My goodness, when this comes out… the actual figure … I don’t think we have got enough.”
“There’s not enough on the table.. I can’t tell the community what it is… I’m uncomfortable with it”. “I can’t articulate the price to the community and it is your asset”.
When the final figure is revealed it will be offered that it was a good decision to sell as the alternate consequences of not selling were beyond considering.
During the debate Councillor Mayne raised the timing talking about selling now or realising the value of the asset in time saying it was a prime piece of land beside an airport and beach.
Video: Ordinary Meeting of Eurobodalla Council Date: September 24th 2019
CCS19/048 SALE OF MORUYA RACECOURSE Discussion ****
This same question needs to be raised across the board of all the assets that Eurobodalla Council plan to sell off in the near future. Already on the cards are public reserves that Council staff have determined are surplus to use contrary to the opinion of the Broulee, Pretty Point and Sth Durras communities who think otherwise.
Then there is Council’s determination to sell the Batemans Bay Community Hall and the Information Centre. In fact Council has an intention of selling off a lot of its assets to bring in the much required funding to feed the $110m budget it has that requires more and more each year.
Council have been found to intentionally overcharge on water and sewer rates to the tune of $1m per year so as to return that amount to the General Fund that pays, in part, for the $36m in annual wages (that steadily rise by CPI every year).
But where does it all end? The State and Federal Governments are wanting to contribute less and less every year in grants and the NSW Government is requiring Councils to be more financially independent and be Fit for the Future.
To be Fit for the Future means to display the capacity to balance the books between income and expenditure while providing the functions and expectations of Local Government. Unfortunately the more assets you have the more you have to maintain and renew. Best sell them. This is one of the primary reasons why Council has not pursued grants to build new marine infrastructure such as pontoons and jetties. If grants don’t come with maintenance money then “No, we don’t want it”.
So the budget of the Shire continues to grow like a great fat pink pig that needs more and more grain however the poor farmers (the community) are unable to continue to feed it at such a rate. The only option is to work out how to get more. One great idea, supported by the General Manager and Council who presented a formal submission of endorsement to the NSW government, is to change the way we are rated.
If Council rates us on the value of our homes they will get considerably more in revenue that they are receiving now with rates based on unimproved land values. The NSW Government like the idea, the Victorian Government like it and it is inevitable that it will come. More rates to feed the fat pig. But how do you extract the increases from the community purse? Most of our community are on low to middle incomes.
Council has revealed it has $112m in the bank but yet they want more. The expected $1.3m for the Moruya Racecourse will be returned to the Trough to feed the pig and will quickly disappear. Next we will learn that Council needs more than $51m for its Mackay Park pool and theatrette. They have already offered that the options will be reduce the facility and remove components, take out a loan, reduce services or seek a special rate variation to cover the shortfall.
And what of the financial details of the pool. That is all secret and deemed Commercial in Confidence. This means the community will not be told how much income is projected or what the projected running costs will be. All very secret but if they get it wrong you had best find your piggy bank because the community will be paying for the shortfalls.
*** Under MOU with Eurobodalla Shire Council- Creative Commons Attribution -NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia licence. read more http://bit.ly/beagleCC