Council to sell child care centre

Lismore City Council has voted to sell the Koala Child Care Centre in Goonellabah.

Council voted 6/4 with Crs Gianpiero Battista, Vanessa Ekins, David Yarnall and Peter Graham against.

One of Koala’s managers, Janette Anderson, argued that most years the Oliver Avenue centre made a profit for Council; that people would lose their jobs; and that there was a shortage of quality long day care in Lismore.

Cr Graham Meineke said it was time to be tough.

“Knowing that my popularity in some sectors of the community will plummet faster than the Prime Minister’s this week, we need to get our own house in order before we go back to people asking for a rate rise,” Cr Meineke said. “During the first deliberative forum, people kept mentioning a couple of things and one is that we get a forensic auditor in so we know how our money is being spent and wasted.

“We have to make the hard decisions, and not go to water when there are babies in the room, like we did with the Goonellabah Library and decide not to close it. This facility is losing us money, we want to get our financial house in order and we should sell it.”

Cr Vanessa Ekins said she didn’t think flogging off real estate was getting the house in order.

“I don’t think there’s a point when there’s an income for Council; I don’t think a knee-jerk reaction of selling off property is a good idea, this money will just disappear and we will have lost a facility, cause unemployment and stress in the community, which is not what we need to be doing,” she said.

Cr Simon Clough said, while the centre had been ground-breaking when it opened 24 years ago, the situation had changed and there were a lot more childcare providers around.

“Council is being hounded for every cent to put to priorities that nobody else is providing,” Cr Clough said. “Morally I don’t believe we can continue. I believe it is an exemplary centre, but I don’t see it as core Council business and I believe we have to direct funds elsewhere.

“There are nine other comparable centres. I don’t support this with any sense of pleasure at all, as I’ve been involved in the community sector most of my adult life, and the money needs to be isolated so that Council can make a decision to put that into areas that no-one else is providing.”

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