Costs revealed


Costs revealed

SOUTH Gippsland Shire Council spent $1.32 million on capital improvements and operation of the Yanakie and Long Jetty caravan parks in the past four years.
But a council report to the September 27 council meeting indicates council has incurred a loss of $335,827 over the past four years across the two parks, with the less popular Long Jetty park at Port Welshpool costing the most.
The report states a small return was prevented by “extraordinary operational expenses”: legal advice that cost $163,770, provision of bad debt that cost $163,706, and consultancy costs of $52,668 to develop a draft masterplan and business case for each park.
Council took over direct management of the parks in 2013, saying the parks were then in a state of disrepair and required investment to address electrical, fire and public safety compliance needs.
At the time, the parks were mainly occupied by annual siteholders with limited short stay options, and “the majority of caravans were in a poor condition with compliance and safety concerns”, a council report stated, with siteholders building unlawful structures.
Reportedly more than 150 siteholders left the parks, after council increased site fees and attempted to work with siteholders to ensure their caravans were compliant over two years.
That prompted the siteholders to take legal action against council in the Supreme Court, which was later settled and withdrawn, with both parties covering their own costs.
The council report recommends council now establish a caravan and camping park committee “to provide strategic advice to council on the future management and investment options for the Long Jetty and Yanakie caravan parks”.
Councillors now hold mixed views about council’s involvement in the operation of the parks.
The decision to operate the caravan parks was a decision of the former council.
Cr Lorraine Brunt, who served on that council, said, “The caravan parks have been a difficult process to get facilities in our shire that the community and visitors find acceptable.
“Once we receive more information I will comment further, but I believe given where we have come from and where we are situated now, we can look forward to the future.”
Cr Brunt said over the next three to five years, upgraded facilities would pay back council’s investment.
She also expects an independent operator will be prepared to look at the parks as a “great investment opportunity”, with a “lease that keeps the facilities in an achievable condition that meets visitor expectation”.
“I’m rather positive that our investment will be repaid,” she said.
Deputy mayor Cr Maxine Kiel said she would form an opinion when she has considered all options available.
Cr Meg Edwards is also yet to make up her mind.
“I have certainly seen different perspectives over the time I’ve been in council to date,” she said.
Cr Don Hill said his view on the caravan parks has not changed since the last term of council.
“I believe we must establish a committee of councillors to investigate this matter so as to arrive at the best way of going forwards,” he said.
Cr Aaron Brown said, “I will make my decision once I have seen all the information at hand.”
Other councillors were also contacted for comment.

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Posted by on Sep 19 2017. Filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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