Noosa Councillors have unanimously supported to opt out of buying the Tewantin TAFE complex, due to the hefty financial impacts of COVID-19.
In a Mayoral Minute tabled at Thursday’s Ordinary Meeting, Noosa Mayor Clare Stewart explained that the pandemic coupled with ongoing uncertainty with native title issues makes the purchase unviable.
Councillors unanimously endorsed the decision, agreeing it was simply an “unnecessary burden on ratepayers”.
“We have already seen significant revenue losses during the pandemic and buying the decommissioned TAFE site doesn’t stop at the purchase price,” Mayor Clare Stewart said.
“We’d be committing our ratepayers to a further $1 million to get the four buildings at the facility to a useable state, plus significant upgrade and maintenance costs over the next ten years,” she said.
“That’s simply an unnecessary burden on ratepayers,” Cr Stewart said.
The Mayor said Noosa MP Sandy Bolton should be commended for her tireless efforts in helping facilitate the sale and giving the community an opportunity to take control of the site, and determine its future.
“Sandy has been briefed as to the reasons why council is not going to proceed with the purchase,” she said.
“It’s been a six year journey since this facility was closed. Sandy continues her advocacy to ensure the site is utilised for the benefit of our community, and Council will assist where it can in these endeavours.”
Ms Bolton said the site offered plenty of opportunities, and that she will not rest until it is operating as part of our future.
“It has been a long journey, and to get a decision from Council now allows us to work on other options that have been presented over the last months,” she said.
“It’s important that this site now be activated as quickly as possible, and no longer sits in the dilapidated state that has been deeply frustrating for all. I look forward to sharing some good news in the coming weeks,” Ms Bolton said.
Cr Stewart said the site’s environmental values were now protected under Noosa’s new planning scheme and the state’s new koala mapping.
“It’s encouraging to know that Council no longer needs to purchase the land in order to ensure there are safeguards in place for those values.”
Cr Stewart said the community had put forward some fantastic suggestions for the use of the facility, and at least four independent schools and training colleges had contacted Council to express interest in it.
“Now just isn’t the time to commit our ratepayers to such a financial impost, but we still want to see this facility put to use as soon as possible,” she said.
“The quickest way to see the site reactivated is for the state to lease it, as the land title issues do not need to be resolved for this to occur.” Cr Stewart said.