Project fails pub test - says Goss

Warragul & Drouin Gazette - - NEWS -

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.

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