The South Burnett Regional Council will call for tenders from community groups to take over the day-to-day operation and maintenance of Ringsfield House in Nanango (Photo: clivelowephotography.com.au)

September 17, 2020

South Burnett Regional Council will call for tenders from community groups interested in operating Nanango’s historic Ringsfield House as a museum and/or tourism destination.

At September’s monthly meeting, Councillors were told the SBRC had been spending an average $56,000 a year to maintain the facility since the former Nanango Historical Society vacated the premises in early 2017.

The money had been spent on mowing and tending the complex’s lawns and gardens; electricity; fire and electrical safety systems; pest control and other routine maintenance.

The Council had also spent much bigger sums in recent years on capital improvements. These included replacing the roof of Ringsfield’s coach shed and a $25,000 upgrade of the kitchen’s exhaust fans in 2019; and this year – thanks to a State Government grant – the $115,000 replacement of Ringsfield House’s roof.

Officers said Council intended to assume responsibility for any future capital improvements to the complex, which was now valued at close to $2 million.

But Council would like to see a community group take over Ringsfield’s day-to-day operations and maintenance so the facility could resume its former role as a community hub.

Councillors were told two community groups had already expressed an interest in the idea.

However, because any successful group would probably need at least a year to develop funding and income streams to cover maintenance costs, the supervision of work programs and volunteers, and implementation of WH&S policies and procedures to keep visitors and volunteers safe, it was unlikely there would be any savings for Council in the short term.

This being so, officers recommended Council call for formal tenders to lease Ringsfield.

Community groups who submitted a tender would be required to submit a financial report outlining their current finances, planned funding streams and cash flows to demonstrate their ability to manage and operate the complex.

Cr Kathy Duff said she supported the proposal because it made Council’s expectations about the arrangement clear.

Cr Kirstie Schumacher asked the meeting if Council had any plans to sell Ringsfield.

Community General Manager Peter O’May said there was no plan to sell the complex, but the recommended procedure to lease it to a community group met the conditions of the Local Government Act.

Councillors agreed to the proposal unanimously.

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