After more than six months of consideration, Yass Valley Council has settled on 209 Comur Street as the preferred location for its new civic precinct. Now the question is who will pay for it?
Council’s general manager, Chris Berry, estimates the precinct will cost $20 million in total. That’s around $1170 per Yass Valley resident.
The precinct will replace the council’s existing offices that are deemed ‘not fit for purpose’ and provide the community with a new library, meeting rooms, a small business centre/work hub, short-term accommodation for council contractors, space for long-term government tenants, such as Service NSW, and an open area/plaza.
So far, council has committed more than $2.1 million to design the building, which was allocated in the 2020-2021 budget.
Mr Berry said the design will be finalised by the end of this financial year.
He said it will then be up to the council elected in September 2021 to approve the plans and proceed with the project.
“We have suggested the precinct could be built in stages,” he said. “For example, the council offices could be built first and then the library.”
Former Yass Valley Council Mayor Nic Carmody and current councillor Michael McManus said the precinct should be built at no cost to ratepayers.
Mr Carmody previously said council had similar plans to build a community centre 10 years ago that would have been funded by selling assets.
Mr McManus agrees with Mr Carmody and said the precinct should be funded by the sale of council land in Murrumbateman or through internal lending.
He was the only councillor to vote against setting aside money in the current budget for the precinct plans.
However, Mr Berry said council is yet to decide how it will fund the precinct.
“The idea is to have a shovel-ready design so we’re in a position to apply should grant submissions come through or loans mature,” he said.
Mr Berry previously said the precinct would likely be funded by a combination of grant funds, loans and the sale of assets.
That funding would be separate to any funding allocated to the new Yass water treatment plant, which has also been flagged as a priority project for the town.
Council already owns 1.3 hectares of land at 209 Comur Street, previously purchased in anticipation of the new offices. In fact, council had first flagged the need for new offices in the mid-1990s.
The Yass community proposed the precinct be built on land adjoining Rossi Street and Riverbank Park, however council highlighted that the land is on a floodplain.
Councillors also agreed that the council building should remain on the main street and at the town’s entrance.