The council will source funds from elsewhere for major projects after deciding not to sell one of its largest assets.
Councillors unanimously agreed at Tuesday night's council to retain its office block at 56 Clinton Street, currently leased to government and other tenants, and a rear carpark in Lanigan Lane. It came despite a staff recommendation to sell the structure, partly because it was "surplus to needs." The complex is valued at $4.5 million.
Mayor Bob Kirk argued the move was premature but more could also be done to utilise the vast space. The office building houses 17 Workspace Goulburn tenants, which are on a month by month lease.
He told Tuesday's meeting that plans for the Bourke Street Community Centre at the former depot were "far from decided."
"We (also) have a social plan that's being prepared and...it may or may not reveal a lot of requirements and expectations we need to address and what we do at Bourke Street," he said.
"We (firstly) need to know that, the cost and how to fund it. Clinton Street is an excellent commercial building, albeit with the need for some maintenance."
The mayor said he was confident that demand for hot-desking and workspaces would increase with the city's growth and called for greater investigation of options.
"I just don't think we should sell it off now," he told the meeting.
The resolution asks general manager Warwick Bennett to finalise lease agreements with tenants prepared to commit to longer term leases. It also requests a report on using part of the building for community centre activities in conjunction with Workspace, and any proposals to upgrade Bourke Street.
Plans for the Bourke Street community centre facility were still in design phase and had not progressed, Mr Bennett recently told The Post.
Cr Kirk won support from Deputy Mayor Peter Walker. He maintained that the estimated 5.2 per cent return on Clinton Street could be higher.
"Without sounding too critical, we need to work harder with the people in there to give them longevity," he said.
"...If we (eventually) go down the track of selling, it gives us a more salable item if we have long-term tenants and conversely, if we hold on to it, more surety of income.
"I think we need to (proceed) with caution. I'm all for selling off some council items that I believe are not required, and that's certainly not parks, but I don't think we've done enough soul searching on this."
Cr Margaret O'Neill agreed and said she was "all for keeping assets" that could reap a return.
A financial statement tendered to the meeting showed building income of $326,880 and $116,148 in expenses, equating to a $210,732 net return. However some $400,000 in improvements, including $250,000 for air-conditioning on the first floor, are needed.
Corporate and community services director Brendan Hollands also reported that some tenants' reliance on government funding for ongoing operation meant there was little certainty surrounding rental agreements.
Nevertheless, Justice NSW, the main anchor tenant, returns $157,600 in annual rent. The lease expires in 2023 but includes options for renewal.
The Smith Family also occupies ground floor space, paying $7280 annually. Some 220 square metres is vacant on the ground floor.
The financial impact
Meantime, the decision will impact funding for projects, including the $18.5m Performing Arts Centre (PAC) project and $29m stage one Aquatic Centre redevelopment. The meeting heard that $3m from the building sale was budgeted for these works.
Cr Kirk said the council would need to find another funding source.
However Mr Hollands told The Post that the council reaped more than expected from the recent Bradfordville and Hume Street land sales. In addition, master plans were being prepared for surplus land at Dossie and Hovell Streets and when sold could return handy revenue. Further land sales in Hetherington Street are also yet to be finalised.
Mr Hollands pointed out that the aquatic centre tender was yet to be called and could turn out to be less than $29m.
"There are a lot of things to play out in the next few months (to understand the potential impact)," he said.
Tuesday's resolution also requests that Mr Bennett prepare a report on the financial impacts to the budget and options to address these.
If the building is sold in the future, Upper Lachlan Shire Council will receive 24.22pc of the proceeds under a 2004 amalgamation agreement.
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