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When a simple vote is actually a three edged sword

At the Council meeting of July 28th, 2020 Councillors Pat McGinlay, Phil Constable and Anthony Mayne tries, as best as able, to raise their concerns that their vote on the day was NOT just to endorse the winning tenderer for the Mackay Park pool but to also endorse whatever measures are required to provide the additional funds to pay for the project PLUS vote to move forward and accept the liabilities of the unknown operational and maintenance costs of the new centre. Most importantly their decision to do so would be without the community knowing how much the project would cost, where the money was coming from and what the expected overheads would be, how would they be funded and what were the projected incomes. The General Manager had defiantly said that such information was "Commercial in Confidence" and not to be made public however, when pushed by Councillor McGinlay to reveal she advised that the missing Gap would be funded from six sources, naming them whilst not expanding on the total expected to be received. Two of those sources were identified as coming from the proceeds of the Southern Phone Dividend and also the sale of the Moruya Racecourse (that still remains confidential). The General Manager also revealed there would be sales of assets, contributions from Section 94A funds along with other internal funds such as the Infrastructure Fund that will impinge on proposed future infrastructure works. As she revealed the sources she also revealed that the claims that the information was "Commercial in Confidence" were groundless. The claims of "Commercial in Confidence" have been often used by the General Manager who is referred to by some members of the community as Confidential Cath as her claims of "confidentiality" are all too often used. All too often they have been proven incorrect as well as was the case above. Sadly such revelations sour the communities trust of the Council. In the end the Councillors voted as expected with McGinlay, Mayne and Constable voting against the motion to accept the tender (knowing that their vote endorsed three elements rather than just one). When asked why he voted against the motion Councillor McGinlay told The Beagle: "I voted against the staff recommendations yesterday for the following reasons: "Firstly I need to make it clear that voting to approve the construction tender was only a minor part of the recommendations. The main decision councillors made was to approve an overall project budget to cover all costs. The  Total amount of the budget,  as I write this, has not yet (unfortunately) been revealed to the public. "The difference between the Total Budget and grant monies, the ‘Gap’, that will have to be made up by additional ratepayer and residents’ money is, to my mind, simply much too big. This is on top of $4m already borrowed by Council. "In addition, the final build plan seems to me to be too compromised in order to try to cut costs, to adequately meet the requirements of many in the community. It is quite a different package and balance of sizes of components to that originally envisaged. "Further, I had serious concerns about ongoing costs to the community due to substantial ongoing depreciation costs based on the total value of the build, as well as projected operational losses for a number of years. "In short, in my judgement, the final numbers were just too high for this Shires’ residents and ratepayers to be asked to pay for, to both build and then maintain," Councillor McGinlay said. You can watch the full discussion of the matter in the video below.

VIDEO: Ordinary Meeting of Eurobodalla Council Date: 28 July 2020, 11am


PSR20/015 Batemans Bay Regional Aquatic, Arts and Leisure Centre


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