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Chambers sell off to boost coffers

17/07/2019 // by admin

IT was once the hub of Mulwaree Shire Council affairs.
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But now the former offices and chambers in Montague St will be sold off following failed investigations into possible uses.

Councillors voted unanimously at their meeting last week to seek expressions of interest from real estate agents to publicly auction the property.

The long vacant facility is expected to fetch about $830,000, with sale costs around $30,000.

Under the terms of the 2004 amalgamation, Upper Lachlan Shire Council is entitled to 24.22 per cent of the proceeds, or $193,760.

But Mayor Geoff Kettle and general manager Warwick Bennett will discuss with their counterparts whether the funds could be devoted to another community facility, benefiting both councils.

Most councillors were convinced that Upper Lachlan would rather take the money.

Mr Bennett said he’d only had a brief conversation with Upper Lachlan general manager John Bell who was reportedly happy with the “asset rationalisation” approach.

The building was last year pegged for a community learning hub, delivering education programs.

Community Plus, an organisation involving former federal senator Ursula Stephens, was Council’s preferred tenant following an expression of interest process.

But further investigations revealed it would cost $450,000 to $500,000 to meet access requirements, making it unsuitable.

Mr Bennett told Tuesday’s meeting there were no other expressions of interest.

Last month he also questioned the business case.

“We as staff have failed to tell the Council the costs of upgrading this building for public use,” he stated in a report.

“It has no disability access, the doors inside are too narrow for a public building and the upstairs portion cannot be accessed for public use without considerable expenditure.”

He said it could be more sensible to sell the structure and construct a purpose-built facility for community use.

Dr Stephens is also hopeful of a better outcome.

Some councillors argued the negotiations with Upper Lachlan should occur first, before planning the sale.

But this was defeated when Mayor Geoff Kettle questioned whether these talks would change their mind about selling.

Cr Margaret O’Neill asked whether Goulburn Mulwaree would derive some type of subsidy given that it had paid rates on the building for many years.

“It doesn’t work like that,” Mr Bennett replied.

The auction is expected to be held in the next few months.

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