Plan to sell council land to pay debt shelved
THE Southern Downs Regional Council has ditched a cost-cutting plan to get rid of 60 parks.
It has been more than two years since council began a park rationalisation process to sell or lease land in a bid to generate millions of dollars in revenue and reduce maintenance costs.
To date, none of the parks have sold.
Council staff responsible for the park rationalisation including mayor Tracy Dobie, director of engineering Peter See and major projects manager Michael Bell declined to comment on why the process failed.
Cr Vic Pennisi, who had been pushing for the overhaul of parks until March last year, said he believed the plan had "stalled at the operational stage".
Parks no longer come under Cr Pennisi's portfolio but he has asked on several occasions why the process was dropped and no information was volunteered, he said.
In December 2014, the park rationalisation committee was given two years to deliver a final report.
The process has involved dozens of councillor meetings and hundreds of staff hours spent on travel, gathering public feedback and delivering reports that have never been actioned.
Mr Bell has previously told Warwick Daily News "staff absences due to personal circumstances held back park rationalisation timeframes".
But past and present councillors this week said council staffs' inability to resolve complex park ownership covenants or find buyers for the land were behind the plan being ditched.
"No one has taken it back on since the election last year," a former councillor said.
"We went in circles as some land was donated by families and some is owned by State Government so working out whether it could be sold or leased became too complicated."
The plan was aimed at reducing council's multi-million dollar debt, he said.