Casino saleyards face uncertain future.
THE future of the Casino saleyards is again up in the air and will be considered further by the Richmond Valley Council when it meets on November 20.
The future of the saleyards was discussed at length at the first meeting of the council's new strategic finance committee when it met last week.
The committee, membership of which includes all councillors, considered options to upgrade the saleyards.
Councillors heard substantial occupational health and safety related works, budgeted at about $1.25 million, were necessary.
They were also told of a "wish list" of upgrade items to modernise and "future-proof" the livestock exchange.
They included the possible construction of a roof, the introduction of "soft-floor" selling, and the conversion of some holding pens to selling pens.
Various options for the works were considered.
A partial upgrade of the facility was costed at about $8 million and the construction of a completely new facility was costed at about $17 million.
Who would pay for those upgrades was considered at length.
Casino Auctioneers Association president Allen Ramsey said sellers would not be prepared to pay increased saleyard charges to fund the works.
However, councillors Robert Hayes and Robert Mustow said options including the possible sale or lease of the facility should be revisited.
The council previously considered the sale or lease of the yards in 2010 but decided against the plan following a community backlash.
"The way I think about it the process we went down before when we put it out to expressions of interest was cut short," Cr Mustow said.
"I believe the council should have gone to the next stage and found out more information on the proposals.
"If there was a positive outcome for everyone - the users, the council, and ratepayers - then maybe council should go down that line."
Mr Hayes said he would not support a situation where ratepayers subsidised the saleyard operations.
"The bare minimum I would accept is that it breaks even and that it doesn't cost the council to run it," Cr Hayes said.
"It has got to be monitored, it has got to break-even and that maintained and, if not, (lease or sale options) revisited."