The Innes Gardens Memorial Park Crematorium and Lawn Cemetery could be sold or leased depending of the result of an expression of interest process.
Port Macquarie-Hastings Council is investigating options and testing market interest in the potential sale or lease of the Philip Charley Drive facility.
The council-owned and operated facility, established in 1984, provides a range of crematorium, cemetery and memorialisation services.
The council in October 2018 decided to seek formal expressions of interest from providers of funeral, cemetery, crematoria and related services to explore the potential sale or long-term lease of either the entire Innes Gardens Crematorium and Lawn Cemetery or the crematorium alone.
The decision follows a council-wide service review project aimed at ensuring the council continues to deliver "best value" across a broad range of services, meeting the needs of the growing community.
Council director Rebecca Olsen said the council acknowledged the importance of and sensitivities surrounding cremation and burial services.
"We want to assure the community that first and foremost our focus will be on ensuring that our loved-ones are looked after, and if council were to enter into a sale or lease arrangement in the future, that party would be required to provide for the perpetual care, protection and management of existing burial and cremation remains," Ms Olsen said.
"Ongoing services must continue to be delivered to the standard required by the community and this testing of the market aims to explore all options, securing the long-term sustainability of the Innes Gardens Memorial Park facility."
The council's service review highlighted a number of emerging risks in continuing to operate the crematorium and lawn cemetery service including increasing competition from the private sector and declining market share and profitability.
The potential benefits offered by the private sector to further improve and expand the range of facilities and services available for the community were also highlighted.
The council, in considering the risks and potential benefits, decided to test market interest in the facility.
Experienced industry advisers have been engaged to assist with the industry-specific elements of the process.
"At this stage, council has only resolved to seek formal proposals to determine market interest, and any decision to proceed beyond this stage will be subject to further formal consideration by council," Ms Olsen said.
"Should a sale or lease agreement be entered into, council will retain ongoing service obligations to the community for the day-to-day and in perpetuity management of other cemeteries across the region."
Innes Gardens Memorial Park includes a 150-seat chapel, lawn cemetery, crematorium and memorial gardens.
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