Dubbo councillors have felt the city’s collective wallet and decided it is far too thin to purchase the former Dubbo RAAF base.
Several councillors said it would not be a wise way to spend public funds and Dubbo mayor Allan Smith raised a number of barriers to the submission of a tender.
Only one councillor advocated the purchase as one that could bring achievable benefits for the city but even he acknowledged that council would not make any moves before the July 22 deadline.
Former Dubbo businessman John Kosseris bought the property from the federal government in 2003, but his company later went into receivership, the receivers last month instructing that the 38.69 hectare site be put up for sale by public tender.
The councillors’ views may come as a disappointment to Daily Liberal columnist Leo de Kroo, who on the weekend criticised the inertia of council.
“Is our Dubbo City Council going to again ignore the opportunity to purchase this large parcel of land in the inner city,” he wrote.
“It would be nice to think that the minute the council heard of a possible sale they would have been doing the paperwork on government grant applications.”
Cr Mathew Dickerson said there had been no formal discussions but he “took it upon” himself to ask “a couple of councillors and the general manager” if it would be “appropriate to buy it and whether there were the funds to do it”.
He now thinks the answer is no to both questions.
“If we did buy it tomorrow, there would be thousands of things you could do with it, but they’re not identified priorities,” he said
“We’ve got to use ratepayers’ money in the best possible way.”
Cr Ben Shields thought the idea was worth considering but cautioned that “council is in debt and should be looking at paying it off”.
Cr Rod Towney thought council was “too flat-strapped” for funds to offer a tender.
Dubbo mayor Allan Smith dismissed the purchase by saying it was not part of council’s strategic position.
He also said purchasing and developing the property would send a poor message when council, as the planning authority, had previously rejected Mr Kosseris’s plans.
Cr Peter Bartley called for council to devise a strategic plan for the site.
“It’s an ideal site, it’s centrally located and would eventually provide a profitable return on the council’s outlay,” he said.
He was resigned to what he saw as the reality, “that the opportunity would again pass council by”.
Councillors Tina Reynolds and Richard Mutton, who both said council should have purchased the property in 2003, said the situation had changed.
Cr Mutton yesterday said council could not afford to buy it and that it was best in the hands of a private developer and Cr Reynolds said that ratepayers would bear the cost of the purchase.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.