Ballina $34m projects face delays

FOUR major projects being planned for Ballina, including the new surf club at Lighthouse Beach, the new Coast Guard tower and an indoor sports centre, could be delayed because funding is not yet available.

Work on four projects – worth around $34 million in total – might not be able to start until Ballina Shire Council can finalise the sale of several blocks of land in the Southern Cross Industrial Estate.

The decision to defer the items was made at the council’s facilities committee meeting last week.

The projects that would be put on hold are:

The new Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore Surf Life Saving Club building, which is worth about $5.8 million;

The proposed indoor regional sports centre, which would cost at least $26 million for the multi-staged development;

Lake Ainsworth Link Road, worth $350,000; and

The new Coast Guard tower, which would cost about $1.7 million to build.

A council report says it would be ‘prudent’ to defer works on these projects in order to prevent a ‘worst case scenario’.

In that scenario, if certain industrial sales did not go ahead, the council could face a reserves deficit of more than $3 million.

“One of the biggest risks for any organisation, and particularly a council, is to commence capital works assuming that revenue will be obtained from asset sales,” the report states.

“The cash flows provided for 2010/11 and 2011/12 rely heavily on income generated from industrial land sales.”

But there is concern that these sales could fall through or take longer than expected, so deferring work on four of the shire’s major projects would ‘assist in minimising any risk’ for the council.

However, the report admits that a $3 million reserve deficit is ‘unlikely’.

The council has maintained its commitment to upgrading the main streets of Ballina, Alstonville and Wardell, which are scheduled to go ahead as planned.

A final decision on whether the four projects should be deferred pending industrial land sales will be made at today’s full council meeting.

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