Shellharbour City Hub contract detail hazy
The potential awarding of a construction contract for the $57 million Shellharbour City Hub project in October will be an expensive decision for Shellharbour councillors, but concerns have been raised they will be making key decisions without all information available to them.
The council aims to get $35 million from the sale of assets to put towards building the hub, including the sale of its existing administration building Lamerton House.
In response to questions from Shellharbour accountant Mark Jones, who asked whether there was any contractual obligation or agreement existing between the council and Stockland relating to Lamerton House, the council said "yes".
A council spokeswoman told the Mercury "there is a legal agreement in place that relates to the sale of Lamerton House that is a confidential document".
"Councillors are aware of the agreement," the spokeswoman said.
However all seven councillors said while they were aware of an agreement, none had seen the details.
"I can understand the information not being made public for commercial confidentiality purposes, but surely our elected councillors should have all of the information made available to them," Mr Jones said.
"It appears the only people who know about this agreement are the general manager and staff."
Mr Jones also questioned whether the agreement could restrict the price the council would receive for Lamerton House.
Shellharbour Mayor Marianne Saliba said while she was unaware of the details of the agreement, she understood it was made while the council was under administration.
"I don't believe it will impact on the sale price," Cr Saliba said.
Cr John Murray said if the council didn't think it was getting a fair price for the sale of Lamerton House, then the sale would not proceed.
Cr Peter Moran said he had asked staff whether it was a "contractual obligation" or "agreement" and had received no response. "None of the decisions of council have authorised staff to enter into an agreement," he said.
"This is [a] piece of land that because of its value should be sold by open tender ... we are not acting in good faith if one of the potential participants in the process has the inside running.
"If staff have exceeded their authority ... then it is way out of order."