Construction works at the site of the proposed Clarence Valley Council superdepot.
Construction works at the site of the proposed Clarence Valley Council superdepot. Adam Hourigan

Minister rejects council depot plan

THERE is more bad news for Clarence Valley Council's super depot with the State Government knocking back a loan application for $5.3 million to partially fund the work. The council's figures show this will leave the project $1.2 million short of its $13.7 million budget.

Last month the council received a letter from the Minister for Local Government, Paul Toole, refusing to consider an application from the council to make an internal loan from its water fund to the general fund.

At its July meeting the council voted to seek approval from the minister for a loan of $5.334 million to cover cash flow shortfalls while the council sold off properties to fund the depot construction.

In a letter dated November4, the Minister said because of the council's debt situation it should "consider the construction program in accordance with available funding, or source alternative sources of funding”.

The final council meeting of the year in Grafton on Tuesday will consider what should be done to cover the funding shortfall the minister's decision will create.

The report to the meeting identifies key issues for the councillors to consider as the timing of cash flows from proceeds of sale of land and properties identified as funding sources for the project.

"To date four of the eight properties identified as funding sources have been sold with each property transfer settled and sale proceeds transferred to council.

"Deposits have been paid on 32 Mulgi Dr, South Grafton and 110 Spring St, South Grafton and contracts for each sale have been issued by council's solicitor.”

The sale of the former Weeds Depot at Lilypool Rd, South Grafton, the Works Depot at Schwinghammer St, South Grafton and the three remaining vacant residential blocks at Bailey's Estate Junction Hill cannot proceed until the planning proposal to reclassify the land from community to operational is approved by the NSW Minister for Planning.

It is anticipated that this approval should be provided during the first quarter of 2017.

The budgetary implications are the council will need to find a further $1.2 million after the council sells off its remaining properties.

The report makes no mention of an estimated $2.5 million blowout of the budget arising from the discovery of asbestos on the site.

Council will have to find the extra money to take more than 30,000 cubic metres of asbestos-contaminated soil to a dump site in Queensland at $70 a tonne. It will also need to fund extra "professional costs”.

A council policy bans comment on information for meetings before councillors have a chance to debate it.



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