COSTS to use shire buildings are under review, as the Shire of Serpentine discovers a $22.45 million funding shortfall and finds fault with its previous practices.
The shire may consider scrapping subsidies to clubs and community groups.
Councillors agreed to ask the chief executive to engage a consultant to review the lease, licence, hire and use of the shire’s buildings, including the existence of bars and liquor licences on casual hire buildings.
The review is part of a refined buildings asset management plan that exposed a significant funding shortfall for the next 10 years that could prove unsustainable.
A gap of $5.8 million for priority operational and maintenance costs was identified, which could be reduced if casual hire fees reflect the true cost of providing public buildings, including funds to repair damage and maintain cleanliness.
Shire policies have not always been adhered to, and some clubs have exclusive |access to part of a building and enjoy a liquor licence to the detriment of other possible |casual users.
Some groups have cost the shire more in terms of repair and cleaning.
A further $5.05 million shortfall is estimated for the building renewal programs of existing buildings and $8.2 million is needed for new buildings outlined in the Community Facilities Plan.
A further estimated shortfall of $3.4 million is expected for upgrade and renewal works which should be bridged through external grants and community contributions.
Urbanisation of the area may help bridge the funding gap but the onus is still on the council – according to the council’s own minutes from September 27 – to make some hard decisions and plan to |increase renewal funding.
This process of asset review began back in 2012-13 however, when the Department of Local Government required the shire produce an Asset Management Plan that financial year as part of the Integrated Planning Framework.
Core business consultants looked at all six major asset categories, and since then the shire has gradually improved the quality of detail of the asset management plans.