A SOUTH Gippsland shire councillor is calling on Council to consider an alternative to a costly new municipal office complex.
“Whilst it is true we have an old municipal office, I do not believe we need to proceed with this project,” said Cr Don Hill. “For a start we should not be entertaining this project within the budget until the study has been completed. The study should be investigating alternative models.”
Council has allocated $119,000 in the next budget for a concept plan for a new municipal precinct and in the long term budget sets aside money to fund a multi-million-dollar building.
As the long term budget stands, claims Cr Hill, 1 per cent of the rates to be collected each year from 2015/16 to 2022/23 will go towards the planned new municipal office complex and there will be further interest charges to be met in ensuing years. By his calculations, “it is evident that we will be paying between 1 and 3 per cent of our annual rates bill towards this project. Total cost of this will be $25 million. Ratepayers will start paying for this as soon as this year’s proposed budget is passed in June.”
Cr Hill believes there is no need to spend nearly as much as that. He recommends an alternative which he has costed at around $5 million. He explains:
“Build a smaller functional unit down at the council depot to house the engineering staff currently housed in the Carino’s complex. Move another department from the Smith Street building into the Carino’s space vacated by the engineering team, say the planning team, for example. Build or use an existing council owned building to house another department from Smith Street. This would require the construction of possibly two smaller buildings and would then allow the library to be rehoused in Smith Street space.” That, says Cr Hill, would mean there was no need to build a new library elsewhere or a municipal hub and could result in savings of several million dollars. “Downstairs at Smith Street could house the library and the hub elements.”
Cr Hill is calling on ratepayers who are interested to discuss his alternative view further.