The Lennox Head Cultural and Community Centre.
The Lennox Head Cultural and Community Centre.

Major projects put on hold after Ballina council meeting

AT THE 2017 Australia Day citizenship ceremony, Ballina Mayor David Wright got too hot due to the lack of air conditioning at the Lennox Head Community Centre, so he decided to find funding for it.

At last week's Ballina Shire Council meeting, Cr Wright thought he may have to forgo his dream of an airconditioned community centre for Lennox Head until next financial year, as part of council's revised Capital Expenditure Program for the 2019/20 financial year.

Cr Wright said the council was presented with a revised financial plan at Thursday's meeting, which was carried in a unanimous vote.

"We have pushed a few things for the next financial year but nothing has been cancelled or pulled out of the list," he said.

More than 30 items of the council's capital expenditure budget were revised, and almost $3.5 million in projects were deferred to the next financial year.

The biggest saving was in works at Airport Boulevard, where $3 million worth of works were delayed to 2020/21 from an initial budget of $6.5 million.

Cr Wright said after the 2017 Australia Day event at the Lennox Head Community Centre he discussed the issue with NSW MLC Ben Franklin.

"I was on stage and my socks were wet, so since then Mr Franklin got us a grant for nearly $2 million, and besides the air conditioning, the centre will be getting a new roof, solar panels and better acoustics," he said.

The upgrades to the LHCC had a total budget of $2,114,600, which has now been revised to $1,764,600, meaning that $350,000 that council was to contribute to the project, have been deferred to 2020/21.

A spokesperson for Ballina Shire Council said that the complete program of works, including air-con and solar panels, at LHCC was proceeding according to the program of works with the contractor on site.

"There is no actual deferral of works - the report was just saying that $300,000 of the payments to the contractor, based on the forecast cash flows, is likely to be paid in 2020/21," the spokesperson clarified.

"We are hoping that the Lennox Community Centre will be open in readiness to take bookings in the second quarter of the financial year (based on weather permitting and once Covid restrictions are eased)."

In regards to the Waste Management and Recovery Centre, Cr Wright said the pandemic crisis means only essential waste is coming in.

Upgrades to the centre and installation of solar panels, at a cost of $255,000, have been deferred to 2020/21.
"Social distancing would make this very hard to complete, it's not so much in terms of a drop on income, but more on safety," he said.

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