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Services Union Says Council Ready to Flog Assets

The Bugle App

Malcolm King

08 July 2024, 6:11 AM

Services Union Says Council Ready to Flog AssetsCredit: Kiama Council

The United Services Union (USU) wants the NSW Minister for Local Government, Ron Hoenig, to appoint an administrator to stop the Kiama Council selling assets to cut debt.

The USU fears Blue Haven Bonaira will be sold to Hall and Prior Aged Care well below the $107m it cost to build the state-of-the-art retirement centre.

It is expected the Council will release the sale figure and terms on July 16 in a confidential meeting with the media.

The USU believes the council is ‘blame shifting’ on to the Green councillors who voted against the sale to minimise reputational damage if Bonaira is sold at a ‘bargain basement’ price.

A union spokesperson said the council had, “gone out of its way by notifying the media of their actions to cause political damage to those who are standing up for their community.”

The union states the council is planning to sell off other services including its waste services, leisure centres and tourist parks.

“We have been notified of confidential reports seeking support for this wholesale sale of community assets which will be put to a council meeting in August for implementation after the council election in September,” a USU spokesman said.

“While selling these services may reduce existing debt, it will leave the council destitute of assets and without the ability to raise capital outside of rates. This will also lead to further job losses and an overall collapse of the council’s workforce.”

The council has already flagged a review into a number of assets such as the leisure centre but it will be up to the new councillors if assets will be sold.

Council will record an operating deficit of $5.4 million in 2024-25 (excluding capital grants and assets sales). This may improve to an operating deficit of $2.7 million in 2025-26 before returning an operating surplus of $700,000 in 2026-27.

Chief Executive Officer Jane Stroud said returning an operating surplus by 2026-27, without relying on asset sales or capital grants, was required by the NSW Government.