A bid to save iconic golf club

IN HOT WATER: The next Nambucca Shire Council meeting will assess a report of recommendation regarding the Nambucca Heads Island Golf Club's debts.
IN HOT WATER: The next Nambucca Shire Council meeting will assess a report of recommendation regarding the Nambucca Heads Island Golf Club's debts. Bruce Thomas/=

NAMBUCCA Shire Council general manager Michael Coulter will table a report of recommendations at Thursday's council meeting in a bid to help the iconic Nambucca Heads Island Golf Club with its debts.

In the report, Mr Coulter outlines the ailing club's outstanding debt bill is $38,387.26 in water bills and $7000 in unpaid rental on its crown lands licence for the golf course proper.

Mr Coulter told the Advocate he was confident the report was a constructive step towards balancing the books of the not-for-profit club and the council.

"What I am trying to do is balance out their (the club's) financial sustainability as well as see the council obviously recovering the money that is owed to us so that everybody can move forward," Mr Coulter said.

The first of three recommendations proposes "that council offer the club dollar-for-dollar assistance of up to $50,000 to employ competent engineering or specialist golf course consultants" to work with the club to reduce its reliance on the town water supply for irrigation.

Secondly, it is recommended the golf club be allocated "one month to enter into a payment plan arrangement with the council to balance their outstanding water and crown lands licence charges".

The report also recommends the council "continue not to charge interest on the outstanding balance", but staff be authorised to "apply a water restrictor to the premises without further notice" if there is a default on the agreement.

Mr Coulter said the condition in this final recommendation highlighted the council's concerns about the club's risk of falling into administration.

"In terms of the council's position, I am acknowledging that risk (of administration) exists," he said.

"Hence, the recommendation that we not charge interest on their outstanding balance and enter into an agreement with them whereby gradually that debt is paid off and I am anticipating that will take many years."

Mr Coulter said the report weighed up competing interests, from the value of the club's tourism to its economic value to the region.

"The council has responsibilities to treat ratepayers equitably in terms of outstanding debts," he said.

"I have put some thought into balancing out all of those competing interests and I have done, I think, my best in recommending a course that does that."

The former Nambucca Heads Island Golf Club secretary-manager Matthew Faulkner, who has pleaded guilty to two counts of larceny as a clerk totalling more than $100,000, will be sentenced in Macksville Local Court on October 20.

Topics:  debt golf larceny michael coulter nambucca heads nambucca island golf club nambucca shire council

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