February 28, 2017
The proposed purchase of a disused Ergon Energy building in Kingaroy may be deferred or dropped following concerns the project could turn into a costly mistake.
At its February meeting, the South Burnett Regional Council voted to purchase the former Wide Bay-Burnett Electricity Board building in Haly Street, Kingaroy, for $475,000.
The building has sat empty for many years and its location between the Carrollee Hotel’s bottle shop and the Kingaroy Art Gallery has attracted little interest from potential buyers.
southburnett.com.au understands the Council’s intention was to use the building to relocate its engineering department, which is currently housed in the former Nanango Shire Council offices in Drayton Street, Nanango.
The Council has already budgeted for significant maintenance work to be carried out on the Nanango offices to fix ongoing problems with the building’s roof, air conditioning and drainage.
Since the February vote was taken, some Councillors have given the matter more thought and expressed concerns the Ergon purchase may be inappropriate.
One sore point is that the Kingaroy purchase could wind up costing the Council more than $1 million when all costs are taken into account.
This is because a dirt car park behind the building would need to be upgraded to bitumen.
There would also be costs associated with wiring the building for computer and communication systems, and the Council would also have to pay legal fees on the purchase.
Against this $1 million outlay, the Council would still be unable to avoid paying maintenance costs on its Nanango building.
And when maintenance of the Nanango office was completed, the Council would be left with a large, refurbished building that was mostly empty except for a few customer service staff.
Relocating the 20 engineering department staff from Nanango to Kingaroy would also remove a large amount of lunch money from Nanango’s economy.
southburnett.com.au understands the purchase of the Ergon building will now be discussed at the next Councillor Portfolio meeting, which is closed to the public.
Pending the result of those discussions, a motion to either rescind the February motion – or lay the decision on the table until the Council’s finances improve – is expected to be tabled at the March general meeting.