Shellharbour councillors have unanimously moved to protect the millions of dollars to be generated by its Shell Cove marina project.
The need for “prudent” planning, irrespective of a potential council merger with Wollongong City Council, was at the centre of a brief debate on the issue at Tuesday night’s meeting.
Council’s corporate policy director Lee Furness recommended councillors quarantine the expected millions in future revenue, so the money can only be used “for the benefit of present and future citizens of the current Shellharbour local government area (LGA)”.
Councillors agreed, in principle, that funds from the project be held for that reason and be kept away from Wollongong residents, should a merger go ahead.
“Regardless of if we do have a takeover or not it still stands that we have an absolutely incredible development there that is worth multi-millions of dollars that needs to be put into the local community,” Cr Kellie Marsh said.
“Unless everyone packs out of Shellharbour and Shell Cove pretty quickly, in my opinion, it’s still going to be the same residents that we’re going to be speaking to and engaging with [about] how they want the funds spent.”
I’m interested to see if the people who criticised us for that [the project] are now criticising us for trying to be prudent in what we do with the distribution; I see a fairly large irony in that.
Councillor John Murray said one of council’s roles was to “look after ongoing business”, adding the project had been in the works for more than 35 years.
“I would hope if we were lucky enough to avoid amalgamation, this is just good planning for the future,” Cr Murray said. “Even if not, it is still … going to have to come before the new council because it’s still going to need to be dealt with.”
Cr Murray said Shellharbour residents had long supported the project, despite “extensive criticism … that this project was too big for us or too ‘pie in the sky’ or would never come to fruition”.
“I’m interested to see if the people who criticised us for that are now criticising us for trying to be prudent in what we do with the distribution [of future revenue]; I see a fairly large irony in that,” he said.