Project fails pub test - says Goss
An outdated business case and ratepayer affordability were the key factors for Cr Danny Goss to oppose the West Gippsland Arts Centre redevelopment last week.
Cr Goss said he was “vehemently opposed” to council committing to a $10.9 million tender for a project that “doesn’t pass the pub test.”
“Nothing I’ve heard persuades me that this money needs to be spent,” he said.
Cr Goss said he had seen nothing in the business case, which was 18 months old, to persuade him council should be spending the money.
He said thousands of people voted for him because of his platform for financial responsibility and this project did not stack up.
“This business case was for a $10.5 million upgrade for which council was to provide $2 million.
“The figures are rubbery and these figures don’t add up.
“This is not our money. People are asked to pay hard earned money for their rates. This money belongs to other people.
“Thousands of people voted for me and my platform was financial responsibility
“A lot of them resent paying rates and they will be annoyed about us spending $9 million,” he said.
Cr Goss said he was speaking on behalf of a lot of Warragul people who did not want the redevelopment to proceed.
“If it doesn’t pass the pub test then it doesn’t meet the values of ordinary people,” he said.
Cr Goss said the mayor had been quoted as saying because of rate capping, some projects would have to be put on hold.
“So how can we spend $9 million on one project.
“We have a duty to spend ratepayers’ money wisely and I don’t want to spend the next four year saying the money has gone,” he said.
Crs Michael Leaney and Keith Cook also spoke against the redevelopment.
Cr Leaney said it was a lot of money and he could not help but think about the horrific roads in rural areas that needed repair, or the communities that wanted just $1500 for a new stove in their hall kitchen.
“Communities are crying out for small things to be done.
Cr Leaney referred to the $12,000 cut by council last year when it closed Noojee’s library.
“That was a major thing for that community but it couldn’t be afforded. That $12,000 will barely pay for a square of carpet in the arts centre,” he said.
Cr Cook said he understood the arts centre had to be compliant with current standards but he was concerned about a larger facility putting pressure on car parking demands.
Cr Cook said there appeared to be an impression if there were not more than 500 seats, the facility would close. “That’s ridiculous,” he said.