Ballina Shire Council recently engaged a consultant to conduct a feasibility assessment of a 15-lot subdivision in Wollongbar. Council has the option of selling the land (valued at $577,500) or developing the lots at a cost of $1.7 million. The consultant estimates the development will generate a profit of $395,800. Additional costs were identified in the council meeting which raises questions in respect to the commercial viability of the project. This development carries significant risks, for example cost and time blowouts, and the future sale price of the land.
Instead of allocating the $2.3 million to community infrastructure, Council is going to spend this money (cost of development plus land value) in the hope of making $395,800. Council also resolved to allocate $1.5 million to ‘modernise’ the Wigmore Arcade. These two projects will cost ratepayers almost $5 million dollars with little, if any, return on investment.
I raise these two matters because I believe that ratepayers’ money should be allocated to long-overdue and much-needed community infrastructure projects like an indoor pool, sports centre, Lennox to Ballina cycleway, etc. I believe that the continual delay in delivering these infrastructure projects is increasing their cost by more than any additional capital that may (or may not) be generated by Council’s speculative property development activities.
This council gave a commitment to deliver these projects yet continues to divert money elsewhere causing further delays on building the infrastructure and facilities that our growing community needs.
Cr Jeff Johnson, Ballina Shire Council