Public to get first look at cost files for Cairns Entertainment Precinct
THE affordability of the Cairns Entertainment Precinct will be known to residents next month when the council releases the final version of its business case and a financial health check by the Queensland Treasury Corporation.
When the documents are published on Cairns Regional Council’s website on November 11, it will be the first time residents have had access to the data.A draft copy of the business case – which was needed to secure $57.3 million from the State Government – was submitted to councillors and Arts Queensland yesterday.
Councillors were briefed this week by the Queensland Treasury Corporation, which had almost finalised an independent assessment of the council’s finances. The review will determine whether the region can afford the $155 million project without burdening ratepayers. Earlier this month, Deputy Mayor Margaret Cochrane led a vote to stop progress on the project until councillors had seen the business plan and the results of the Treasury Corporation’s financial sustainability review.
"The review and the business case will spell out whether it’s affordable or not and that’s always been my major concern," Cr Cochrane said. "If it’s affordable, councillors should be able to make a decision about moving on to the next phase of planning." But other councillors said the matter should be decided by residents at the March council election.
Cr Rob Pyne, who had regularly voted in favour of the precinct, tried unsuccessfully on Wednesday to raise a motion that would put the project off until after the March 31 poll. And Cr Paul Gregory yesterday said the community should have a say over the precinct after the business case was made public. Cr Gregory, who is not standing for re-election next year, said he resented calls from other councillors who said the vote to delay progress was politically motivated. "Something that has a very significant impact on future budgets needs to have a mandate from the people – I’m not hearing anything other than that out in the community," he said.
The council expected to receive feedback from Arts Queensland and other State Government agencies on the draft business case soon.
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