MidCoast Council has used its website to release details of the process and timeline into the decision to purchase the former Masters site in Taree.
It has also published a redacted late report on the land acquisition (minus confidential details) that was put to councillors at the extraordinary meeting of council on November 2, when the decision to go ahead with the purchase was made.
Settlement on the purchase is due to take place on Monday, December 4.
Council is investigating the consolidation of its administrative functions at the site and a business case is being prepared for council to make a decision on how to best utilise the space.
The consolidation is expected to deliver more efficient service delivery and cost savings over time.
Council said initial assessments highlight significant financial benefits in consolidating the existing administration buildings in Forster and Taree into a single site.
MidCoast Council says it is committed to not only maintaining its current level of services, but continuing to make significant inroads into the region’s infrastructure backlog, which at the time of the merger was $180 million.
“The purchase of Masters will not affect council’s commitment to the community to deliver improved roads and bridges,” council’s general manager Glenn Handford said.
“Our $30million Roadcare program funded through initial merger savings and State funds is continuing. The income raised through the Special Rate Variation (SRV) will only be used on roads and bridges.”
MidCoast Council has developed a comprehensive roadworks program which invests a significant amount of money into improving local roads.
This includes the $30million Roadcare package made up from $14million in Stronger Communities funding and $16million in merger savings over the next four years; Special Rate Variation (SRV) income which is quarantined under legislation specifically for use on roads and bridges; grant funding which to date includes $8.3million for The Bucketts Way (State funding) and $6.835million for bridge renewals (federal funding); and income from council’s Woolworths investments.
With the money from the SRV Council anticipates being able to secure a low interest loan of $50million, which would assist in bringing the roads and bridges backlog within the State Government’s guidelines, being a backlog of two per cent of the value of council’s total asset base.
“We are constantly looking at ways to improve efficiencies that deliver greater value for money for our ratepayers.
“The potential consolidation of council’s administrative functions will mean tangible savings and operational efficiencies,” Mr Handford added.
“Integration of teams has been hampered and challenging with staff dispersed across the region. Our focus is on ensuring our staff work collaboratively to streamline processes and work holistically to deliver the best possible outcome for our community”.
Should the transition to a single administration office take place, it is anticipated that a council service centre would be established in Forster. Other district offices and depots are unaffected by the proposal.
Council will be considering the merits of the business case at the ordinary meeting of Council on December 20.
To stay updated on plans for the former Masters site, visit www.midcoast.nsw.gov.au