MidCoast Council to hold community information sessions about Biripi Way

MidCoast Council will begin engaging with the community for consultation after endorsing the Biripi Way financing strategy at the recent council meeting.

Council will hold community information sessions in Gloucester, Taree and Forster later this month about the establishment of a head office on Biripi Way, Taree following a decision by councillors at the ordinary meeting held in Taree on Wednesday October 31.

The program of engagement with the community is designed to gain feedback on impacts of the centralisation and the funding model.

From Monday November 5, a range of information will be available on the council website and residents will receive information in their mailbox on the project over the coming weeks.

Community information sessions will be held around the region from November 22 – 27, with opportunity for other communities to also find out more.

The outcome of the engagement with the community, and the outcome of a peer review currently underway on the financing strategy, will be reported back to councillors before a decision is made to proceed to the more detailed design phase of the project.

The strategy indicated the project, which will see almost 350 staff move to the former Masters site, will be paid for through cash reserves, property sales and loan borrowings.

“The financing strategy makes it clear there will be no special rate variation required for this project, and we will not be touching any operational funds so things such as the $100 million road program will continue to be delivered to our community as planned,” council’s General Manager Adrian Panuccio explained.

Mr Panuccio outlined the $20 million would be made up from $7.2 million from cash reserves (funds saved from the merger), $4.8 million from the sale of property assets, and $8 million in loans.

Loans would be repaid by funds gained from leasing current administration buildings.

Mr Panuccio also indicated the centralisation of administrative functions to the new site would not impact on customer service arrangements for the community.

“Currently customer service centres are provided at Taree, Forster, Gloucester, Tea Gardens and Stroud. This level of service would continue with the relocation to Biripi Way.”

“The Taree Customer Service Centre would be relocated to Biripi Way and the Forster Customer Service Centre would be provided at the new Civic Precinct in Lake Street Forster which is scheduled for occupation in September 2020.“