Minister's Ballina Marine Rescue tower funding dummy-spit
BALLINA Shire Council has rejected claims it has enough money to rebuild the town's "leaning tower" after its impending closure on Monday.
Roads, Maritime, and Freight Minister Duncan Gay told parliament "politics were being played" in council's bid to gain an extra $450,000 in funding to build a new Marine Rescue NSW communication tower from scratch.
He said Marine Rescue NSW's $200,000 contribution from its 2016-17 budget, coupled with $350,000 from the State Government, should "remove any impediment from preventing the project to commence".
"I am advised that Ballina Shire Council now has sufficient funding to commence the new communications tower," he added.
Mayor David Wright said the entire project would cost $2.1 million to complete.
"We have enough to build it, but not to complete the associated works involved in the development application - things like the carpark, the demolition and the soil and drainage," he said.
"We still need another $450,000 to complete the project.
"They want us to complete the building and worry about the rest later, but we will never get another grant.
"Our community shouldn't have to pay for three-quarters of a state asset on state land."
The council has so far committed $1 million of ratepayers' money to project.
Cr Wright said the current building was so lopsided council workers had to fill gaps at its base with asphalt just to make it look usable.
"Our guys had to use an angle grinder to grind the cement floor down, because it was leaning so badly you couldn't open the door," he said.
"It's so bad that a spirit level is now useless because you can't even see the bubble."
Cr Wright said the tower would be used as part of the Australian border security program and deserved federal funding.
"I don't care where it comes from, as long as we get it," he sad.
"The Premier has been really good with this shark stuff lately, but we need a new tower."