Wattle Range mayor

ON PREFERRED SITE: Mayor Des Noll jumped for joy last year after council selected the site for the new office on North Terrace.

By Raquel Mustillo

WATTLE Range mayor Des Noll says he is “concerned and disillusioned” with the decision-making process of elected members following an eleventh hour attempt to change the site of council’s new $5.5m administration office.

Despite work progressing on the North Terrace/Williams Road site, Penola-based councillor Dean Burrow sought support for the development of a new design in the vicinity of the Millicent RSL Hall and the drain.

Council heard rescoping the design at the Jubilee Park precinct was likely to be in the vicinity of $30,000 and would most likely require a change of architectural plans.

Cr Burrow said that the decision on the location was “rushed” and further claimed “a majority decision of a council is not always the right one”.

The Riddoch Ward representative was backed by Sorby Adams councillors Dale Price and Deb Agnew, both of who agreed the site should be closer to existing council assets and Millicent’s central business district.

Reading from a prepared statement, Cr Agnew reflected on what she termed as a “hurried and rushed choice of an almost evenly divided group” and expressed disappointment with the “easy option decision”.

“What has happened to our courage and our representation as a team to deliver a really good outcome? she said.

“I am not the only person who believes that if we place the new office at the proposed site, we will be doing a disservice to the staff and the community.

“This is about so much more than spending money and getting it done.”

“I think opportunity awaits and we need to have some courage.”

Following contributions from councillors Mr Noll – who has been a vocal supporter of the site at its current location – expressed exasperation with the continued debate on the location, which was passed by council earlier this year.

“When we started this term, there was a lot of discussion about once we make a decision, even if some of us don’t like it, we go with it,” he said.

“That was hammered home quite early… you have to fall in behind and go with it.

“Clearly that’s not the case… it is demonstrated to me that this is not the case with this council.

“If you don’t like the decision, we bring it back to the table some months later which I think is extremely disappointing.

“I don’t see any team environment involved here; I see individualism coming out more and more.”

Mr Noll’s comments sparked a sharp rebuke from Cr Price, who said elected members were objectively reflecting on a previous decision.

“A decision made that cannot be reviewed and is possibly a wrong one, is a bad decision,” Cr Price said.

“We’re having a debate about a decision that we made earlier and it was a close call.

“If there was acrimony in this debate I’d be really concerned, but there’s not.

“We’re entitled to vote and debate this and you to adjudicate.”

Councillor John Drew supported Cr Price’s sentiments around the debate, but said any change in location was likely to further increase the costs of the project.

“I do not believe that this community has an appetite for increasing the cost substantially,” he said.

Corcoran Ward councillors John Drew, Dennis Muhovics, Kevin McGrath, Graham Slarks and Moira Neagle, along with Beachport-based elected members Sharon Cox and Kevin McGrath voted against any change.

Cr’s Burrow, Price and Agnew voted in favour of the motion.