Sunshine Coast ratepayers entitled to know the truth
SUNSHINE Coast Council has to come clean about what's going on at Valdora.
A level of government that claims to be closest to the people cannot continue with the secrecy that surrounds its alternative energy plan.
The available documents do not prevaricate. They are absolutely clear in their explanation of what council has done. The "why" is much harder to fathom.
Put simply they show that council paid $1.65 million to purchase 40ha of flood-prone cane land off Yandina-Coolum Rd that had previously sold in September, 2012, first for $770,000 then $1.1 million on the same day.
That in itself is a spectacular mark-up in a flat market. But council also paid Gruenenergy, which held a 30-year lease on the property and an option to buy, another $2.68 million for the rights to that option. Why?
It's a simple question that deserves better than the no comment offered to date.
Sunshine Coast Council can't afford a kerbside rubbish collection because of cost. But it appears able to pay considerable overs to a company - Gruenenergy - that appears to have done nothing more than be a vehicle for a series of transactions that have ascribed silk purse value to a sow's ear.
Council can't claim it is a payment for intellectual property. The relevant documents say no such thing.
Its granting of development approval in 2011 for what is meant to be a commercial venture is under challenge and may not stand.
The mayor has a responsibility to put to ratepayers the case for what his council is doing. He needs to put the business case and modelling for the proposal on a table that can be accessed via an open door.
Simply to claim the solar farm project will save ratepayers $9 million or $10 million over 30 years won't cut it.
This council was elected with much bluster about new directions and jobs, but to date has been more about closed doors and inaction.
The airport is supposed to be a game changer. What is the timeline and funding that will make it a reality?
How much has it spent on the new CBD? To date, land purchases alone, including the Horton Park Golf course and other property in and around Maroochydore, would amount to more than $50 million.
Council has treated the community to pretty pictures and promises, but again, where is the business model and what is the cost?
How much will the new CBD cost ratepayers?
This council is starting to spread itself pretty thin. It is committing us to $30 million for the solar farm, at least $50 million on the CBD, with a long way to go, and at last count $400 million for the new airport runway.
Sorry, commercial-in-confidence just doesn't cut it. It's time for council and the mayor to explain themselves.