THE church group buying Warwick's Slade Campus for $4 million will have six years to pay it off under a special deal struck with the Southern Downs Regional Council.
Council chief executive officer Rod Ferguson yesterday confirmed Christian Community Ministries (CCM), which plans to relocate the Warwick Christian College to Slade, has paid a deposit of $300,000, with an instalment of $400,000 due in August.
But the remaining balance of $3.3 million - plus interest - may not be fully inside council's coffers until August 2018 under the terms of the sale contract, with the title to be handed over at that time.
MR Ferguson said CCM would make annual payments, but was not specific about a figure.
He disagreed that the deal with CCM could be described as "unusual" and said it had been vetted by the Queensland Treasury Corporation and given the all-clear.
"This is a unique property we are talking about and while you might expect someone to walk in with a cheque for $4 million, in big business this arrangement is not uncommon," Mr Ferguson said.
"Christian Community Ministries will be paying full commercial interest, set at 6% in the first year by the Queensland Treasury Corporation."
Mr Ferguson said a "premium" had been added to the interest, but could not specify a figure.
He did confirm that if CCM could not service its debt ownership of Slade would automatically revert back to the council.
Mr Ferguson denied suggestions CCM had council over a barrel, saying their interest "component" alone would be significant.
The council announced the purchase price for Slade in early March, having bought the campus from the Anglican Church Grammar School for $3.6m in 2007.
With staff and maintenance having cost the council $354,000, the sale represented little more than a break-even for ratepayers.
CCM intends to begin operating the new primary Warwick Christian College next year and will add a senior year every following year.
CCM chief executive officer John Lyndon said the instalment plan method of payment was the "only way we could organise" the purchase of Slade, but insisted it was a "good outcome" for all.
He said CCM expected to pay off Slade "earlier" than the August 2018 deadline, but would not be specific about a time frame.
"We are now in our fourteenth year of operation with seven schools across Queensland and an eighth about to open," he said.
"We started with 100 students and we are now up to 4000."