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QPRC ratepayer: downtown bids, plans, and value for money?

Transparency, please.

dear-editor-icon-nov2018WITH THE AMALGAMATION of Queanbeyan and Palerang councils into the QPRC, our new regional council inherited numerous Queanbeyan valuable CBD council-owned buildings.

In the QPRC administrative phase, the administrator and general manager, (now Mayor and CEO) accepted for consideration an unsolicited proposal from one consortium, to help council develop these valuable Queanbeyan CBD assets.

As far as I have been able to discover as a ratepayer, this one proposal was handled by the administration without advertising, business plan, or professional independent assessment required by local authorities — there appears to me to have been little scrutiny.

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This consortium, Downtown Q Pty Ltd, is generally unknown to ratepayers. Ratepayers need to be informed more about this company, especially if it will be dealing with large council assets paid for by ratepayers, and especially if it is associated with any real estate firms.

Instead of competitive tender for these buildings, a “Heads of Agreement” was signed by council and Downtown Q Pty Ltd for them to assist council in developing these Queanbeyan CBD assets [starting with two buildings on Rutledge Street adjacent to the library once council staff is moved into new premises].

There have been many closed sessions of council meetings, and many “in-confidence” information papers that ratepayers could not be informed about. All this seems to suggest a lack of respect for QPRC ratepayers, and begs questions about due process.

New council offices, parking

There has been little ratepayer opposition to the Queanbeyan CBD transformation plans, basically because ratepayers have been kept in the dark, and are completely oblivious to the financial implications of proceeding with the major investment of a 5-storey replacement Queanbeyan council administrative building, [located next to The Q theatre] which will cost over $40 million, not including architect and demolition fees for the old and new buildings.

When will ratepayers be fully informed of how this transformation will affect ratepayers’ and council assets?

This new administrative building will seemingly include some of the now available public car parking spaces, near the Queanbeyan Q theatre, into this new mega Queanbeyan council building. Council staff effectively fill most of the car parks in the vicinity of the Council complex, so when will ratepayers be informed how this will be replaced and additional spaces provided for general use and at what cost?

And what return would Council gain from passing very valuable CBD real estate to a single mysterious consortium? Why have other companies not tendered for these building sites and offered different proposals to consider?

I think amalgamation has sold QPRC ratepayers an extremely sick pup, as we no longer seem to be either heard by council and/or council do not seem to concern themselves much with accountability to their ratepayers.

After 2020, or perhaps 2022, as the QPRC mayor stated at the 30/10/2018 QPRC Bungendore council community meeting when the council rates can be legally increased, I suspect we will all be unhappily surprised by QPRC rate rises to cover the borrowings that have not been disclosed, as a result of this nefarious process.

— Sandra Young, Queanbeyan.

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