Money back for town buildings

Decision time: Community groups that operate within council-owned buildings will be keen to earn a place on the governance committees that will be established to discuss the future of the facilities through the Township Facility Plan (TFP) process.

Campaspe-owned buildings that are identified as surplus to community needs will be closed or sold through the Township Facility Plan (TFP) process and funds re-invested into agreed township projects.

It is not quite a fire sale, but in the April meeting agenda it was painfully clear Campaspe council has identified buildings it believes should be sold, or closed, in order to meet its financial obligations.

It has, however, decided to seek community input prior to that process starting.

Governance committees of between seven and 11 people will be established in all Campaspe shire towns.

Community members will be invited to self-nominate for the positions on the committees.

Three staff and three councillors will review the nominations and establish the panels and make recommendations to the mayor and chief executive officer for ratification.

From that point the committees will be provided with a detailed list of council-owned buildings and land in each town, then be asked to recommend what can be “disposed of” and what the proceeds of those sales could be put toward.

In a common theme, which started with the proposed savings from the closure of outdoor pools being given back to the community for new or upgraded assets, council officers reported in the agenda that closing community facilities would lead to the allocation of those savings back to the community.

Council officers have recently completed a review of the use, condition and maintenance of council-owned buildings (including pools) to assist in determining how “fit for purpose’’ they are.

With the community meetings — in some instances already under way — due to start in the coming months to complete Place-Based Plans and Township-Facility Plans (TFP) interest in council buildings is high.

Maintenance issues, financial challenges of managing the assets and the condition of the buildings are all part of the study that has been completed by the Campaspe council officers.

Once the consultation process for the TFP is completed a range of initiatives will be identified, which may include the closure and or sale of council-owned community assets.

As was the case with the proposed decommissioning of the outdoor pools, any facility or service that is identified by the community for closure, or decommissioning and or sale through the TFP process, will see the funds given back to the community.

Those funds will pay for any asset renewal and project identified in the TFP.

Tongala is the first town to be involved in the establishment of a governance committee, which will be responsible for identifying council-owned buildings, which may be closed or sold.

Campaspe council’s sustainability is a quote that regularly pops up in the agenda of the April council meeting.

It suggests the community has focused on upgrading or introduction of new assets or services, rather than sale or closure of facilities.

The report suggests, in far more complicated terms, that the use of council-owned facilities is not a consideration of the community.

In a direct quote from the agenda: “the challenges or replacing or renewing assets to meet the required service levels or community expectations within towns is havuing a significant impact on council’s financial position”.

Councillors will be presented with recommendations from the community panels focusing on a review of pools, along with round one Place-Based Plans and Township-Facility Plans for Echuca, Kyabram, Rochester, Lockington, Stanhope, Rushworth, Colbinabbin and Tongala.