Con­tra­dic­tions in pet lodge pur­chase Cat­tle es­cape dur­ing bur­glary

Warragul & Drouin Gazette - - NEWS -

There is no ref­er­ence to an “in­de­pen­dent en­tity” be­ing en­gaged by Baw Baw Shire or to it rec­om­mend­ing coun­cil buy the for­mer Utopia Pet Lodge at Long­warry North in coun­cil’s of­fi­cial records dat­ing back to 2016.

At a meet­ing with The Gazette last week Mayor Joe Gauci (he has been mayor since late 2015) stated the Au­gust 10, 2016, de­ci­sion to buy the pet lodge prop­erty and co-lo­cate a new mu­nic­i­pal an­i­mal pound on the five-acre site was made “in good faith” and based on a re­port and val­u­a­tion by an “in­de­pen­dent en­tity”. How­ever, coun­cil’s min­utes of the Au­gust 10 meet­ing (page 6, agenda item 7.1 pur­chase of 61 Princes High­way, Long­warry North – Utopia Pet Lodge) make no ref­er­ences to any in­de­pen­dent (ex­ter­nal) re­port.

But the doc­u­ment does re­fer to a re­quest that coun­cil of­fi­cers un­der­take a due dili­gence assess­ment.

The Gazette has re­peat­edly and un­suc­cess­fully queried since the de­ci­sion and, usu­ally in writ­ing, whether a busi­ness case was pre­pared and due dili­gence re­port com­piled in-house by coun­cil of­fi­cers or by an ex­ter­nal party such as a con­sul­tancy.

At the meet­ing last week that The Gazette had sought for a num­ber of months it was stated that an “in­de­pen­dent en­tity” pre­pared a val­u­a­tion re­port to coun­cil that can­not be re­leased pub­licly due to a “dis­claimer” in­cluded by the en­tity.

But the coun­cil meet­ing minute only refers to coun­cil re­quest­ing on March 23, 2016, that “of­fi­cers” un­der­take a due dili­gence assess­ment of the site and busi­ness known as Utopia Pet Lodge.

It went on to add that “hav­ing re­ceived due dili­gence re­ports of­fi­cers re­ported to coun­cil at a con­fi­den­tial coun­cil meet­ing on Wed­nes­day, June 22, 2016. At this meet­ing coun­cil del­e­gated the chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer to ne­go­ti­ate with the own­ers of the land for the pur­chase of the land and busi­ness”.

“Then at a con­fi­den­tial coun­cil meet­ing on Wed­nes­day, July 27, 2016, of­fi­cers re­ported on the com­mer­cial as­pects of the pro­pos­als and as a re­sult Coun­cil, hav­ing re­ceived the re­quested in­for­ma­tion, re­solved to ac­cept an of­fer of $1.2 mil­lion with set­tle­ment to take place on Wed­nes­day, Au­gust 31, 2016”.

A fur­ther cost of $150,000 was in­di­cated to es­tab­lish co-lo­cated pound fa­cil­i­ties on the site.

The chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer at the time He­len An­stis, who an­nounced her res­ig­na­tion the fol­low­ing Jan­uary, was au­tho­rised, in con­sul­ta­tion with the ven­dors, to “re­lease de­tails to the pub­lic that are of a non-com­mer­cial na­ture”.

“There­fore due dili­gence re­ports will re­main com­mer­cial-in-con­fi­dence and will not be re­leased to the pub­lic”.

As well as Cr Gauci last week’s meet­ing with The Gazette was at­tended by the shire’s chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Ali­son Leighton and ex­ec­u­tive man­ager com­mu­ni­ca­tions and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment Mark Kes­ti­gian, nei­ther of whom were em­ployed at the shire when the Utopia pro­posal was con­sid­ered and ac­cepted.

Baw Baw CIU de­tec­tives are in­ves­ti­gat­ing the bur­glary at the Buln Buln Rd prop­erty be­tween March 29 and April 4.

The prop­erty has frontage to the Princes Fwy and Buln Buln Rd.

De­tec­tives said of­fend­ers cut five strands of wire in two places on the two road frontages.

A John Deere all-ter­rain ve­hi­cle val­ued at $8000 was stolen from a locked shed af­ter of­fend­ers cut a pad­lock.

An aban­doned house and var­i­ous sheds are lo­cated on the prop­erty as well as about 50 head of cat­tle.

De­tec­tives said the vic­tim was alerted when cat­tle es­caped onto the free­way.

Baw Baw high­way pa­trol po­lice were called in to chase the cat­tle back onto the prop­erty.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.