Tweed Shire Council has a lot of land worth millions and some of it should be sold to fund infrastructure projects, according to former mayor Warren Polglase.
Cr Polglase succeeded last week in his move calling for a report on what council-owned land can be put up for sale in an expression-of-interest process.
‘Council owns a considerable amount of land with considerable value and we should spend some of that on infrastructure projects such as the museum at Tweed Heads; that way we don’t need to borrow money for these assets,’ Cr Polglase told council.
‘Some projects such as Arkinstall Park (sports complex at Tweed Heads) we are unable to complete because of the cost.’
But Cr Joan van Lieshout said now was ‘not a good time to sell’ and council shouldn’t sell its land ‘in a hurry’.
Cr Katie Milne agreed, saying council-owned land was ‘our nest egg’ which would not go down in value and shouldn’t be used to fund infrastructure such as bridges and parks.
Cr Milne said it should be looked at as an emergency fund to fund things such as a shirewide koala plan of management ‘which is an emergency situation’.
She suggested the funds generated from a land sale could be put in a trust fund to allocate to emergencies but Cr Polglase said his motion was ‘just asking for the report and not how to allocate the money’.
Cr Kevin Skinner said the amount of properties council owned was ‘staggering’ and they cost ‘a lot to maintain them’.
Cr Skinner said only the first stage of the Kennedy Drive roadworks had been funded and and lots of properties were ‘a burden’ to the shire, such as Barbara Rochester Park which could be subdivided and sold ‘to put a park in a reasonable place’ for locals.
‘By calling for expressions of interest we can identify what land we have and see what offers we get and then we can decide,’ he said.
Cr Polglase said council had owned many blocks of land for many years and governments should not be involved in land banking.
The vote for his motion was 6–1 (Cr van Lieshout against).