Concerns over youth hub cost

IT MAY be a done deal but Bellingen Shire councillors Dave Scott and Ian Coe remain deeply worried about the council’s decision to forge ahead with the construction of the William Street Youth Hub.

On Monday the council voted 5:2 to accept construction company Tisdell Constructions offer to extend the currency dates of the tender from April 4 to May 31, 2011. The extension is necessary because written approval from the Federal Government for an extension of the completion date of the project from June 3 to October 30 has not yet been received.

The two councillors say, and have done so repeatedly throughout the debate, the $1.9 million Federal Government grant for the facility is not the gift some believe it to be.

“This will be a financial millstone around the community’s neck in years to come,” Cr Coe said.

“Sure it’s a good idea to have this youth resource centre but we still don’t know who will use it, who will pay for its maintenance, and whether it is really needed.”

Cr Scott said financial viability had to be the number one priority for a small council.

“There are already five employment and training service centres in the shire and now we are creating another one including the building. Is this the best use of our limited council funds? I think not.”

He said everything with the project had been done back to front.

“Normally you see what is needed and then see what funding is available.

“But here we have been given the money and now we are creating the need.”

Cr Coe said the council had already committed close to $100,000 to employ a co-ordinator (not yet appointed) to look for organisations that might be interested in moving into the building.

“A lot of services are already here at no cost to the shire, so why are we now using council funds?

“I think this whole cosmic scheme is surrounded by very woolly thinking.

“Our roads are falling apart and our roadside vegetation is a major problem – I don’t think anyone really understands how much of a financial drain this will be.”

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