In essence, I became aware of the request for a $2 million council co-contribution to the Wonthaggi Highball Facility at 2.45pm on Wednesday, February 15, just two or so hours prior to our council meeting.
At this stage, the new council is yet to develop its Council Plan, Strategic Resource Plan, Budget (Operating and Capital) and Statement/ Summary of planned capital works and agreed priorities for 2017-18 and 2018-19 and later years.
The Local Government Act 1989 states that Council "must implement the principles of sound financial management".
The proposal put before Council lacked these principles and in my view would have created undue financial risk in advance of our planning over the next few months, particularly in the light of our community engagement forums in January 2017 and the vast array of community needs and aspirations arising from those sessions.
During the course of my electoral campaign I committed to providing strong financial leadership and that was demonstrated last evening.
It should also be noted that the decision last night in no way impacts the Wonthaggi Secondary College education precinct project including highball facility funding.
That said, I also respect and acknowledge the considerable angst and disappointment being experienced by all basketball/highball stakeholders, and encourage their further representations in the upcoming council/community budget sessions.
I respect Cr Larke’s and Cr Brown’s position – I know we are trying to sort out our finances – but what most disappoints me is that we have missed an opportunity to grab a big slice of state money without having to match it dollar for dollar.
We had to put forward up to $2 million – it could have been a lot less. Now we won’t ever know because we didn’t take up the invitation. And we’ll never know how much funding we could have got.
The Wonthaggi Basketball Association put a lot of work into this. They are very disappointed and I share their disappointment. There is not a lot to encourage the local kids. The sports facilities throughout Bass Coast are pretty run down.
This was a project that could have helped build a sense of community pride in our town. And not just Wonthaggi but the whole of the shire. Kids from the island and Inverloch come to the school and would have used the stadium.
Families from all over our shire are off to Shepparton this week end for a basketball tournament. One mother told me the whole family is going and they are staying three nights.
Imagine all those families heading to our area. If we had a three-court stadium, we could hold tournaments. We would get families from all over the state staying, using our accommodation, eating in our restaurants, bringing money into our town. It would be an opportunity to increase our tourism dollar and spread right across our shire.
There are plans for a two to three court stadium near the YMCA but I don’t think we’ll see it in my time on the council.
I understand that there will be disappointment for some in relation to Council's decision on the Wonthaggi Highball Court proposal.
The first basic outline of the proposal was recieved by Councillors last Friday (10th)
It is the only Council proposal I have received so far that didn't say what the cost to residents was going to be. There was no figure whatsoever. The cost was literally "xxxx".
We didn't have a figure on Monday or on Tuesday or even Wednesdaymorning. We received the figure at around 2:45 a few hours before starting out public meeting.
The question is this - would you commit millions of dollars of resident's money to a project with just a couple of hours consideration? I'm sure that some people would have. I took the view that it would have been irresponsible for me do so with such flimsy planning and detail.
As for the future of highball facilities (whether they be at the future high school site or the YMCA site), my approach will be simple - work out how we are going to fund the project first and then commit to the project. Not the other way around.