Mackay Park project: Not so Done and Dusted
After two weeks of accepting a tender to construct the Mackay Park Pool the Council still has not told the public who the winning contractor is and how much the winning tender was. While the wider community is now unofficially aware that the winning contractor is ADCO (who are also the contractors who won the Hills Waves complex tender) the Eurobodalla Council continues with their veil of secrecy failing once again to advise their community of key details around the $70 million project. It has now been two weeks since Eurobodalla Councillors voted to accept the tender to construct the Mackay Park facility from an undisclosed company for an undisclosed amount that will be paid for, in part, with an undisclosed contribution from undisclosed funds and via the sale of undisclosed community assets bolstered from the sale of the Moruya Racecourse for an undisclosed amount. While it now appears as though the project will move forward and public consultation and inclusion in the project has come to an end it is not as "Done and Dusted" as some might imagine. There still remains the question of how the community will pay for the $15 million GAP and how they will provide for the estimated $3 million per year to cover running costs and revenue shortfalls. Eurobodalla Councillor Anthony Mayne posted his concerns around the funding and the overt confidentiality to his social media page asking: "How much will it cost in total? How will Council/Community pay for it? What assets will we sell to cover the shortfall? What is the opportunity cost (e.g. what will you go without now and into the future to pay for this project)? What is the ongoing operational costs? Can we see the business case? Will Council still sell the Batemans Bay Community Centre? And the answer to each of the above = Commercial-in-Confidence. I voted against the sale of our community owned #Moruya horse racing track mainly because we could not tell you the sale $ price. I had the privilege of working with the community to keep its Centre in the Bay, to try and stop the sale of green spaces (Durra, Broulee etc), to preserve parks (e.g. Pretty Point). So if Council is to sell off such assets across the Shire to pay for the facility in the Bay, then our community needs to know these details. Batemans Bay is a major population hub. The $51m in grant funding is terrific. Yet the entire Shire will fund any shortfall in the build cost through the sale of its assets. Any shortfall in the operation costs will be paid for by your rates. How can Council represent you and your views and wishes if you do not know the price and how any shortfall will be made up? So what is the entire Shire prepared to forgo now and into the future to ensure that the Mackay Centre can proceed in the Bay? We are a resilient community. The bushfires led into covid and now we find ourselves in a recession. So as a community that has gone through so much together, I hope we can have a transparent and engaging debate on Tuesday so that we can best represent your desires for our future together. I will ask each of the questions listed above on Tuesday to that we can hopefully have as transparent a debate as possible on what is a major project for our community. Duty First. Anthony
Beginning with the proposed sale of the Information Centre in Batemans Bay the council have also earmarked sourcing the shortfall from the Infrastructure Fund (remember we had to have a Special Rate Variation because the Infrastructure Fund was running dry - the same fund that is used to repair roads and bridges, playgrounds, footpaths and council buildings). Council will also be selling parks and reserves identified as "surplus to needs" and moving money around in restricted funds such as Section 94 contributions adding to the deficiency with the unknown sale price of the Moruya Racecourse and sale of the Southern Phone shares that should both have benefited the whole of shire rather than just Batemans Bay. While the Mayor continues to make reference to the Mackay Park facility as a Regional facility, as it was primarily funded by Regional Grants for Regional Infrastructure, it is becoming apparent that the Regional label has been dropped from the description. Nevertheless the financial impost will burden ALL ratepayers across the shire as it is without doubt a Regional facility for all to use. Council are presently engaging a consultant to come up with a new name for the complex. It will be interesting to see if the word 'Regional' makes an appearance.
Above: The Mayor, Council staff and members of the warm water pool committee: Council has not revealed any details of the winning tender for the Mackay Park leisure centre