Vote grants $700,000 to make new centre 'shovel ready'

THERE was lengthy debate ending in a close call for councillor Tegan Swan's bid to see $700,000 allocated to the Northern Beaches Multipurpose Centre.

Coffs Harbour City councillors were considering projects to be funded in their upcoming delivery program.

Deputy Mayor Cr Tegan Swan.
Deputy Mayor Cr Tegan Swan. Trevor Veale

The draft budget released for public consultation did not have the Woolgoolga project listed, but as outlined by Cr Swan the majority of submissions received during the consultation period were in relation to the project.

"We had a record 45 submissions and 35 related directly to the multipurpose centre so if we are able to accept this change in light of this, it will show we are committed to moving this project forward," Cr Swan said.

"We haven't plucked this amount out of the air and we're not jumping the queue on any other projects.

Cr George Cecato.
Cr George Cecato. Trevor Veale

Debate surrounding the inclusion was side-tracked with Cr George Cecato's attempt to make an amendment that $1.3-million be allocated to complete the north wall car park upgrade.

It was ultimately ruled that this was not an amendment, but a completely new motion.

"An amendment should be in the form of adding to or varying the intent of the motion, but this is introducing new business," Mayor Denise Knight ruled.

Coffs Harbour Mayor Denise Knight.
Coffs Harbour Mayor Denise Knight. Keagan Elder

With a State Government funding promise of $8-million given to the multi-purpose centre prior to the March 23 election it was determined to make the most of the opportunity and allocate council funds in the next financial year.

Cr Keith Rhoades reiterated his concern that other communities like Sawtell were missing out.

"They are paying the highest rates in the LGA for virtually nil return," Cr Rhoades said.

Cr Keith Rhoades.
Cr Keith Rhoades. Trevor Veale

In supporting Cr Swan's amendment to allocate the $700,000 for the multipurpose centre Cr Sally Townley urged her fellow councillors to focus on the plans before them and to make the most of the $8-million promised prior to the election.

"Any one of us could bring our favourite projects up for discussion and it would be incredibly financially irresponsible to approve them on the fly like this," Cr Townley said.

Cr Sally Townley
Cr Sally Townley Trevor Veale

During discussions it became evident that the council is still uncertain as to when the promised $8-million from the State Government will be forthcoming.

"It's very difficult to get an idea of which financial year the state government funding will be forthcoming, but we expect to see a good part of that money in 2020/21," general manager Steve McGrath said.

Coffs Harbour City Council General Manager Steve McGrath.
Coffs Harbour City Council General Manager Steve McGrath. Rachel Vercoe

When it was eventually put to the vote Crs Swan, Townley, Arkan and Knight were in support with Crs Cecato, Amos, Adendorff and Rhoades against.

With votes tied, Cr Knight used her casting vote to support the amendment to allocate $700,000 to help get the project 'shovel ready'.

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