Council set to play bigger role in centre

Byron Council is looking at entering a partnership with the Byron Bay Community Association for the ongoing management of the Byron Bay Cultural and Community Centre.

It follows a request from the association for help from the council to pay an $80,000 bill to the Australian Tax Office.

Despite council staff concerns about the association’s financial situation and a recommendation to reject the request, the council voted last week to receive a report on the council’s capacity to provide an $80,000 five-year loan to the association to pay out the tax bill and also a report on possible partnership models between the council and the association.

The council already has a strong link with the centre, having contributed $522,000 from section 94 (developer) contributions towards the cost of the centre’s redevelopment.

The centre’s new manager, Paul Spooner, said he was looking to see that link strengthened through a partnership arrangement.

“There has always been a struggle here since redevelopment,” he said.

“We are looking at how we can make things better in the future. We think it’s fair that council plays its part with this.”

Mr Spooner admitted there had been some ‘stuff-ups’ in the past, but the association was solvent and the financial situation had ‘turned around’.

He said the centre’s income was improving and costs had been cut. The association was also looking at refinancing a $1 million loan to get a better deal and he was optimistic this could be achieved, he said

Mr Spooner said he was confident the centre was heading in the right direction.

He said the centre was an ‘amazing’ facility, but realistically it was a non-profit social enterprise which needed a level of support from the council.

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