Why purchase this building?
Council saw this as a commercial opportunity and investigated options to purchase the site for significantly under its replacement value. The building is not only an excellent commercial opportunity, it is also considered to be a viable option for a centralised administration building.
A centralised administration building will allow us to bring teams together from across the organisation so that we can deliver more effective and efficient services to the community.
Why would Council be interested in commercial opportunities?
MidCoast Council is a commercial and entrepreneurial organisation. Council makes purchases that are strategic in nature and provide either a commercial return or community benefit (e.g carparking).
Many of these sites provide an income for Council which not only goes back into community services and infrastructure but also puts downward pressure on rates.
We currently own:
- Woolworths supermarket in Peel Street, Tuncurry
- Motel and other land in Wallis Street, Forster
- Bottle Shop in Lake Street, Forster
- Civic Precinct site in Lake Street, Forster
- 6ha residential land in Chapmans Road, Tuncurry
- Aviation Business Park in Taree
- Land forming part of the proposed "Northern Gateway" transport precinct
- Existing Council office buildings and depots
Where is the money coming from?
Prior to a decision being made by Councillors to proceed with the project, Council’s internal finance team will assess the proposed cost implications outlined in the investigation report and consider options for the most appropriate funding arrangements (should the project proceed). Council will present a proposed funding strategy as part of the initial gateway phase.
Will the funding of the roads/bridge program be affected by the purchase?
No. We are committed to improving roads and bridges across the MidCoast region, and have recently attracted $50 million in NSW Government funding, which we will match through the existing special rate variation, to deliver a $100 million roads and bridges program over four years.
This is on top of the $30 million roadcare program we are currently delivering to our community. This was funded by merger savings and Stronger Communities funding from the NSW Government.
All of this is on top of our existing roads maintenance program and separate funding allocations we have received for bridge renewals from the Federal Government and Bucketts Way funding from the NSW Government.
What Council buildings do we have that would be affected by the move?
- Council Administration, Pulteney Street, Taree
- Water Services, Muldoon Street, Taree
- Council Administration, Breese Parade, Forster
- Water Services, Breese Parade, Forster
Information on the value of these buildings will be incorporated into the detailed feasibility study, and will form part of the decision on whether the site should be used as a centralised office or other commercial opportunities.
If administrative functions moved into one building, a face-to-face point of contact would remain in Forster. It is anticipated that the depots and district offices would not be affected.
It is important to remember that to retrofit the existing Council offices to ensure they are fit for purpose will come at a cost. Currently Council is operating out of a number of offices and our teams are currently dispersed across multiple sites. To bring teams together will require moving staff and re organising work teams and this will require a refit of the existing buildings.
How much is it going to cost to fitout this building?
A detailed investigation into the feasibility of consolidating our administrative functions into a single office is being conducted by project manager, Montlaur Project Services.
Design options and costings are being developed to provide Councillors with a clear and accurate overview of the estimated cost of relocating services to a central site to support them in their decision making.
Is the use permissible on the site?
The land is zoned B5 Business Development under the Greater Taree Local Environmental Plan 2010.
A public administration building (Council offices) is permitted with consent.
What about the staff and the impact on them?
If a change in location is determined to be the best option we will continue to liaise with staff to understand the potential impacts and minimise these where possible.
Staff will also be impacted if a decision is made to bring teams together in existing buildings, and we will liaise with staff on this scenario as well.
Why the Masters site?
This was a unique commercial opportunity that presented itself.
To house approximately 400 staff and associated facilities we need a building that is around 6000sqm.
We are looking at the most cost effective option to deliver greater value for money for our ratepayers.
What about other Council services, are they moving too?
We anticipate there will be minimal or no impact to other services such as MidCoast Assist, Libraries, Visitor Information Centres, district offices and depots.
In addition a face-to-face point of contact will remain in Forster for transactions over the counter. We are constantly looking at ways to improve efficiencies that deliver greater value for money for our ratepayers.
How is this going to deliver benefits?
We are constantly looking at ways to improve efficiencies that deliver greater value for money for our ratepayers. The potential consolidation of Council’s administrative functions will mean tangible savings and operational efficiencies. Information on this was provided in the detailed business case. Integration of teams has been hampered and challenging with staff dispersed across the region. Our focus is on ensuring our staff work collaboratively to streamline processes and work holistically to deliver the best possible outcome for our community.