Wollongong Town Hall set for shake-up

The managers of Wollongong Town Hall could be the first victim of Wollongong City Council’s controversial financial sustainability review.

A report on the future management of the town hall will be presented to councillors at the February 17 council meeting.

In December, the council advised Pegasus Venue Management that its contract to manage Wollongong Town Hall would not be renewed beyond May 31.

People and organisations trying to hire the Town Hall have been told by Pegasus that they may have to deal with other managers in the future.

The writing was on the wall for the town hall when the council’s citizens panel said $50,000 could be saved by ‘‘integrated’’  management of the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre and Town Hall.

The Sydney firm chosen to manage Wollongong’s Town Hall in 2011 had come in with a ‘‘significantly lower’’ price tag than the tender from the IPAC.

At the time, council administrator Richard Colley said the Castle Hill company scored significantly better than the IPAC tender in almost all of the council’s selection criteria for managing the Town Hall, including price.

The report to go before councillors next Monday said that recent constitutional changes at IPAC provide the council with a greater oversight and control of governance for this operator.

It recommends the IPAC take over management of the Town Hall from June 1, 2014 to  December 31, 2017, and its offer would be more cost effective as using the same operator would create economies of scale for the arts precinct.

The report also said a satisfactory result would not be achieved by inviting tenders for the Town Hall's management.

Meantime, Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery has thanked the community for their feedback on options to Secure our Future.

When submissions closed last Wednesday afternoon more than 800 responses from individuals and groups were received via email, online and post.

‘‘My fellow councillors and I are pleased that people from right across the local government area have taken the time to have their say on this important decision. Since we began the process in September more than 18,000 people have visited the website, attended forums and visited information kiosks to learn more about Securing our Future,’’ Cr Bradbery said.

The Illawarra Mercury reported last week that of the three budget scenarios, each of which have different combinations of rate rises, service cuts, fee hikes and efficiencies, option three was the clear leader with 45per cent of respondents selecting it as their preferred option.

The scenario proposes a ‘‘more significant rate rise [and] efficiencies with low impact on services and staff’’,  with rates to rise about 25per cent over the next three years.

Option one, with significant service cuts and efficiencies and a 16 per cent rate rise was second  with 29per cent, and the middle-ground  scenario third on 27 per cent.

Wollongong councillors will decide on new managers for the Town Hall at their meeting on February 17. Picture: GREG ELLIS

Wollongong councillors will decide on new managers for the Town Hall at their meeting on February 17. Picture: GREG ELLIS


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