Saleyards to stay in council’s capable hands
COUNCIL in Richmond Valley gave a resounding vote to continue to own, operate and upgrade the Northern Rivers Livestock Exchange last night.
Mayor Ernie Bennett said he was pleased with the result of council’s decision, and it was now time to move forward and modernise the facility.
He said for the region’s producers, and the economy of the region, it was important to get the project underway.
“With Casino’s premiere event Beef Week starting this weekend, this decision couldn’t be more timely to give a real boost in confidence to the beef industry and local businesses,” Cr Bennett said.
Council was successful last year in receiving a $3.5 million grant under the Federal Government’s National Stronger Regions Fund, which was matched by council borrowings.
Prior to commencing the project, council sought an independent review on the various options for the redevelopment and future management of the saleyards.
The review found the optimal option was for council to continue to own and operate the facility, and proceed with upgrading the facility with the available $7 million.
This recommendation was backed by about 250 residents at a community meeting last week.
Increase of fees
Council’s general manager Vaughan Macdonald said for council to operate the saleyards to consistently achieve at least a break-even operating result in the short term, fees and charges had to be increased.
These included an increase in throughput fees to $9.90, a capital works levy of $1.10, and an increase in auctioneers and agents permit fees to $10,000.
Mr Macdonald said the next step was to prepare design specifications and cost estimates for a full upgrade of the saleyards, with development stages identified to enable upgrading in line with available funding.
He said a consultation forum which would include people with saleyard-design experience, local agents, and key stakeholders would be established to inform the redevelopment and transitional operational arrangements to modernise the saleyards’ operation.
“The NRLX is a key business activity for Richmond Valley Council, and is the major marketing centre for the beef industry on the Northern Rivers,” Mr Macdonald said.
“Council’s recent review identified that a more sustainable financial and operational model was required if the facility is to realise its potential as a leading regional livestock exchange in NSW, which befits Casino’s status as the Beef Capital of Australia.”
Mr Macdonald said Council would continue to work with the NSW Government to identify suitable grant funding opportunities.