Loan of contention

GAWLER Council has agreed to provide an unprecedented $150,000 in- terest-free loan to Gawler Community House to help redevelop its run-down fa- cilities, however questions have been asked whether it should be covering the repair bill itself.

The local not-for-profit organisation made the application for the community loan earlier this year, after realising it would have to spend upwards of $100,000 to redevelop its Scheibener Terrace facility – a council asset – following the discovery of termite damage in the walls. Council approved the interest-free, 15-year loan and also waived the $100 loan establishment fee at its June meeting last fortnight.

Continued from front page The community loan becomes the largest one council’s ever agreed to – eclipsing the $145,000 community loan it negotiated with Karbeethan Sporting Association in 2003.

It also exceeded the $100,000 ceiling that council previously set for issuing community loans in its Community Loans Policy.

Councillor Adrian Shackley, who is council’s representative on the Gawler Community House board, endorsed the community loan, saying the house’s facilities were past their use-by date and in desperate need of repair.

“I think the end result will be very good and it’s important that the work starts as soon as possible, because already the facility’s suffered for a couple of months, because of this inability to use the main building for activities,” he said.

However, Deputy Mayor Ian Tooley labelled the community loan “the lesser of the two evils”, as his preference was for council to pay for the maintenance of its own asset.

“I don’t want the Community House facing a more expensive loan, but my preference would be that they don’t face a loan at all,” he said.

“I just don’t understand – and I know it’s written into the (lease agreement) – that we own the asset, but they’ve got to fix it.

“I reckon if I leased out a house, I’d be responsible when the hot water service goes.

“However, I’m told that’s not going to happen and I don’t want them hanging in limbo, and I don’t want them to have a more expensive loan.”

Under the terms of the new community loan, Gawler Community House will receive $15,000 a year.

However, it will only be able to spend $5000 of these funds per annum towards building maintenance, with the other $10,000 set to go towards the organisation’s other loan repayments.

Elected members also agreed to commence a public consultation process on Gawler Community House’s request to extend its lease agreement for the facility by 10 years, from 2024 to 2034.

Their decision stipulated that, should council not receive any submissions objecting to the lease extension, the extension period will be granted.

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Matteo Gagliardi joined The Bunyip in August 2016 with almost two years experience in regional print media, having previously worked at a community newspaper in Swan Hill, Victoria. Covering politics, local government and crime, Matteo likes to sink his teeth into hard-hitting issues, but also enjoys spending time getting to know the Gawler community. Matteo also has a passion for science, agriculture and the environment, and has previously worked as a media officer at the Australian Science Media Centre.

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