Stop this inappropriate sale: Sandner
Former Mayor Alex Sandner says of GovHub:
The proposed sale and lease back of the present council office building should be stopped as it is inappropriate and not in he best interests of ratepayers. !, It is not supported by the recent Independent Review as some people claim. The Independent Review only recommends that the City of Greater Bendigo consolidate into one location. I believe that the Independent Review does not make any comment about selling the present office and leasing space in a new office. Those who claim that it does I believe are incorrect and in my opinion are acting in a sophistry manner. 2.It is inappropriate for a Council to lease its office space. The council is not operating a business with stock on hand for sale. Business like Coles, Woolworths, Aldi and others lease some of their outlets because they can make more gross profit by investing money in their stock rather than in real estate. A business selling stock can either rent a building or own it at a cost of say $10 million. The $10 million is better invested in stock because the gross profit earned on the additional stock is more than the rent so the net profit increases. This does not apply to a council as a council is not running a business. A council is merely collecting money and spending it so there is no advantage from leasing. 3. What will happen when the proposed 40 year lease expires? When the proposed 40 year lease expires the Council will be at the mercy of the owner of the building. The owner may look at its Council tenant and see that they have nowhere to relocate to so rent will skyrocket. Look what is happening with the Spirit of Tasmania. At present it docks at Station Pier on a lease arrangement which appears to expire in 2022.. The owners see a captive tenant so the new rent has I believe been dramatically increased and been referred to as "rent gouging". This is most likely to happen at the end of this proposed lease so the Councillors of the City of Greater Bendigo in 40 years time will have no thanks for the Councillors of 2020 who sold of a perfectly good building. 4.The existing building can be economically enlarged. When the Architect Mr Bill Mitchell was commissioned to design a building for the Council he looked to the future and designed and had built a building that could be easily expanded. THIS IS WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN I believe that the foundations of the existing building are strong enough to take two additional floors,the entrance can accommodate two more lifts, the ceiling of the upper floor is a concrete slab ready to become the floor of the next floor and that the supports in the ceiling have been left so they a can easily be extended. In addition to this the Council has enough land around the present building to double the floor plate of each of the existing floors and the two additional ones I have refereed to. Any excess space in this expanded building could be let until required. 5.Enlarging the present building is financially possible. The Geelong City Council is currently located in eight separate sites in the Geelong central business district and are going to build there own building and finance it by the sale of surplus Council assets and long term borrowing. The Geelong Council is doing this SO THAT THEY DO NOT HAVE TO PAY RENT The City Of Greater Bendigo could do the same. The two car parks earn income and could be sold along with any other excess assets. IT IS TOTALLY WRONG TO MAINTAIN THAT THIS CANNOT BE DONE. 6. Objections of a "small group" A group of people in Bendigo have consistently provided logical reasons why the City of Greater Bendigo is doing the wrong thing by selling its present office and leasing space. It appears the views of this group have been dismissed on the grounds they are only a small group. if this is true then obviously those ignoring this group have not read the first chapter of Boris Johnson's book "The Churchill Factor" In that chapter Boris reveals that in May 1940 there was a offer from Adolph Hitler for Britain to surrender. The late Sir Winston Churchill held a minority view of the War Cabinet. His views, fortunately for Australia, were listen to by the War Cabinet and eventually his minority view prevailed. IT IS ABOUT TIME THAT THE COUNCILLORS OF THE CITY OF GREATER BENDIGO LISTENED TO THIS SO CALLED SMALL GROUP AS THEY HAVE RIGHT ON THEIR SIDE JUST AS THE LATE SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL DID.WHAT THE CITY OF GREATER BENDIGO PROPOSES TO DO IS TOTALLY WRONG. 7. A Gov Hub as proposed will not "revitalize" the centre of Bendigo If Council wishes to revitalize the center of Bendigo all they need to do is provide me with the largest caterpillar bulldozer available so I can drive it up and down the Hargreaves Mall.
* This article first appeared in the Bendigo Monthly April 2020