WELLINGTON Shire Council last Tuesday agreed to sell a recreation reserve at Wurruk, valued at $100,000 to In the Hunt Pty Ltd for $45,866 plus GST.
The land sale had been objected to by Sale resident Carol Glover who addressed council prior to the vote being taken.
In email exchanges with council officers Dr Glover had indicated she opposed the land sale because of the huge difference between its valuation and sale price.
“I don’t think the ratepayers would be happy about it, especially since their rates have increased so much.”
“I would therefore like to lodge an objection to the sale,” Dr Glover wrote.
Addressing council Dr Glover accused it of serving the interests of big business over the interests of ratepayers.
” Why are you selling the block of land for $46,000 when the market value is $100,000 especially since you claim you have to increase rates to meet your budgetary needs,” she asked.
Mayor Scott Rossetti noted her question and said she would certainly get a response back.
When the recommendation to sell the land was considered by council, two hours into its marathon sitting that night, there was no debate.
Cr Peter Cleary proposed the motion and Cr Patrick McIvor seconded it. With no councillors opposing, Cr Rossetti declared the motion carried.
Cr Cleary explained the sale of the land was an issue that had been ongoing for a significant amount of time and a great deal of discussion and negotiation had gone into achieving the sale.
When Cr Rossetti moved the council onto its next item Dr Glover expressed outrage, exclaiming council had not explained to the public why it was selling the land well below value.
Cr Rossetti said the matter was finished and Dr Glover left the chamber.
Just before council went into closed session, some quarter of an hour later, Cr Rossetti reflected that explanation might be needed for the community to understand the reasons for the sale price.
He explained the reserve was transferred to council in lieu of a cash contribution for public open space in May 1990. The reserve had never been used for recreation purposes and council had negotiated a settlement with the adjoining land owner in 2004.
Shire chief executive David Morcom elaborated on the explanation telling the Gippsland Times, “The sale price for the block at Herberte Court was based on the then market value in 2004.
“At that time, council had stepped in to assist the Wurruk Cricket Club, who had inadvertently built their new club facility on a small section of privately owned land. Part of the deal was that the small section of private land the club had built on was transferred to council at a nominal cost. That transfer has already taken place.
“As part of this transaction council agreed to sell an adjacent block to the landowner affected, at the then market value. For various reasons, the sale was delayed until recently. In finalising the sale, council agreed to its original commitment but applied an annual compounding bank interest increment for every year between 2004 and today.”
“This not only recognises the small parcel of land transferred to council for $1, but reflects a reasonable solution to an agreement council entered into nine years ago as a result of assisting the Wurruk Cricket Club.”