Last week’s mammoth 6 hour Coffs Harbour Council meeting voted unanimously to review components of the financing and potential make-up of the contentious proposed CCC in Gordon Street.
By Grant Cairncross (Editor of CCO)
With the passage of time we have picked up on a number of crtical issues we believe need addressing.
We do this by commenting in bold under each section of the resolution below.
1. Decline to accept the amounts tendered via the expression of Interest process for the sale of Council properties that concluded on 9 April 2020, being. a. Property (a) Administration Building,2 Castle St, Coffs Harbour (Lot 2 DP 566885, Lot 1 DP 566855, Lot 8 Sec 6 DP 758258), b. Property (b) Rigby House, 27-29 Duke Street Coffs Harbour (Lot 110 Sec DP 777398), c. Property (c) Museum, 215A Harbour Drive, Coffs Harbour (Lot 101 Sec DP 1041655)
Good. That is the only sensible and sane thing to do given what has been happening to property prices, both commercial and residential, since the Covid 19 pandemic swept around the world. We understand none of the tenders were remotely close to what Council had mandated as minimum sale prices.
2. Place a temporary pause on the inclusion of Property (a) Administration Building and Property (b) Rigby House from any Expression of Interest for sale process.
The reasoning behind why the sale pause of the properties is temporary only at this point in time needs to be explained in more detail for ratepayers. So far so good but what is the situation if the abovementioned property prices issue lasts three years or longer – what are Councils options then?
3. Authorise the General Manager to engage in negotiations with prospective buyers via the commercial real estate agent engaged by Council under the current agency agreement with a view to achieving a reasonable offer in line with market value for Property (c) above (Museum Building) and Property (d) 169-171 Rose Ave, Coffs Harbour (Lot 100 Sec DP 861850).
The market value is what the market is willing to pay at any given point in time. End of story!
If offers fall below what Council mandated in relation to these sales of public ratepayer owned properties last year then they should remain in public ownership until property prices improve or a new Council decides to alter course in this regards.
4. Note that a report will be brought back to Council in regard to property sale negotiations.
So it should. And it should be open on the council meeting agenda, detail what has been offered and why and not be hidden away from the view of Coffs Harbour citizens under “weasel word”, opaque terms such as “commercial in confidence”.
5. Request a report detailing alternative funding options for the Cultural and Civic Space Project for the funding component relating to property asset sales.
We heartily concur with the words of Rob Trezise on the Coffs Coast News and Views Facebook site today and which are re-produced below;
“What we as a community need to be wary of is the change to the C&C Space has been merely designed as an attempt to receive a Government Grant by removing Council offices from the project that it wouldn’t otherwise have received if the were left in.
And then what if the building gets built with the Government money, what is to stop future Councils moving itself into the so called “commercial office space”.
Mayor Knight and GM McGrath, I think that you are taking the community, and the Government, for a ride if you think we are going to cop this “pea under the shell trick”. I am pretty sure the Government won’t either, especially if they are being lied to.“
6. Receives a report detailing the financial implications of the removal the proposed functions of Council staff offices and associated working spaces within the Cultural and Civic Space, (other than Library, Gallery and Museum staff) and exploring opportunities for alternative uses for the space including community and/or commercial uses.
This is good as far as it goes but this needs more clarification. We offer some suggestions below in this regard;
Who will do the reports?
What will the report author’s required expertise need to be?
How will their independence in relation to doing the report be ensured?
How much has been budgeted for the report?
What deadline is the report working to?
Will copies of the report be made public?
Will the community have a chance to have input into all the reports named above? If not why not?
The above resolution needs to be tightened so as to meet what is known in Strategic Management as the SMART test. Namely it needs to ensure it meets the following criteria. The motion and reports needs to be made;
Time based .
Otherwise the motions and reports alluded to in them will be worthless.