The Lismore City Council-owned Koala Child Care Centre at Goonellabah.
The Lismore City Council-owned Koala Child Care Centre at Goonellabah.

Child care centre may be sold

THE Koala Child Care Centre at Goonellabah may be sold if Lismore councillors approve a staff recommendation at their monthly meeting on Tuesday night.

Staff recommended the sale following an investigation, including public consultation, after councillors identified the option last year during a full review of the council’s 2009/10 budget.

In a report to be delivered to councillors on Tuesday night, staff said that although the centre operated on a balanced budget, once expected maintenance costs and council’s ‘in-kind’ services were included, it was running at a deficit of about $30,000 this year.

“Given the number of current child care providers in the Lismore government area, both profit and non-profit, the financial risks associated with being an owner and operator, and the fact Koala is unlikely to ever providea return to council, it is questionable if council needs to be in this market,” staff wrote in council’s May business paper.

“If what other councils do can be used as a guide, then council does not need to be in this market.”

Koala, established in 1986, provides long day care for children up to five years of age. It is licensed for 39 children.

Only three other NSW councils operate child care centres. There are about 20 for-profit and not-for-profit centres within the Lismore council area.

The report says if council decides to sell the centre as a non-going business, or a separate property sale, it could generate ‘significant one-off revenue’.

It does not provide a dollar figure, citing commercial sensitivities.

During consultation with staff and parents earlier this year, most parents praised the centre’s quality of care and expressed concerns about a fall in standards if it was taken over by a for-profit operator.

The staff report says that should council decide to sell, the marketing and sale period should be developed to minimise disruption to the centre and its staff.

In addition to Koala long day care, the council operates the Gingerbread House Occasional Care Centre.

Until late last year, it also operated an Outside of School Hour Care Service, which it merged with a similar service offered by the Lismore Neighbourhood Centre to create Rainbow Region Kids.



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