MidCoast Council says Masters Taree buy will not be funded by Special Rate Variation

Council is preparing a business case for the proposed merger of administrative functions to the Masters site which will be considered at council's December 20 meeting.
Council is preparing a business case for the proposed merger of administrative functions to the Masters site which will be considered at council's December 20 meeting.

MidCoast Council’s $7 million Masters building buy will be funded by a loan that will be repaid using revenue sourced from council property investments.

That is the advice of MidCoast Council as it works to clarify community confusion and questions about how the cash-strapped council will foot the bill for the 9910 square metre warehouse on 3.7 hectares and its conversion into office space.

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December 4 saw council finalise settlement on its controversial purchase and it is now preparing a business case for the proposed merger of administrative functions to the Taree site and will consider it at the ordinary meeting of council on December 20.

Comments made by Member for Myall Lakes, Stephen Bromhead on 2RE on November 21 sparked alarm within the community that council intended to divert dollars raised by the Special Rate Variation (SRV) to fix roads and bridges to buy Masters.

I'm fighting to get $50 million for MidCoast Council to match dollar for dollar a $50 million low interest loan that they will get from the NSW government and the recent rate variation will pay off that $50 million loan."

Member for Myall Lakes, Stephen Bromhead.

MidCoast Council did not brand the statement by Mr Bromhead as wrong, with a council spokesperson advising, “what he has said is correct but, coming from a State government angle it’s a different message than ours.”

State Member for Myall Lakes, Stephen Bromhead.

State Member for Myall Lakes, Stephen Bromhead.

Council is now working to make clear its message about Masters, the use of SRV funds and how it intends to improve our roads and bridges. It says no SRV funds will be used to repay the loan to purchase Masters.

Last week council general manager Glenn Handford said income raised through the SRV would only be used on roads and bridges. This week council also stated that it was a legislative requirement of the SRV approval that income generated be quarantined for use on roads and bridges. 

Forecast SRV income has put council in a position to apply for a low-interest $50 million loan from the NSW government – a loan that council says would be used on roads and bridges - and it is this loan, that council plans to repay with SRV revenue. 

The loan paperwork is yet to be done as council is waiting on confirmation of matching NSW government funding – an outcome that could potentially see a $100 million roads package for the region.

According to council, the importance of the $100 million package lies in it helping it to address the $180 million backlog in a far shorter period of time than SRV funding alone. A spokesperson for council said there was “no indication of when this ‘package’ would be announced.”

It’s important for the community to understand that the purchase of Masters will not affect council’s commitment to the community to delivering improved roads and bridges. The potential consolidation of council’s administrative functions will mean tangible savings and operational efficiencies.

MidCoast Council general manager, Glenn Handford.
MidCoast Council general manager, Glenn Handford.

MidCoast Council general manager, Glenn Handford.