The wheels are in motion to assess the feasibility of Port Macquarie-Hastings Council's plan to borrow $25 million for six projects.
Cr Justin Levido raised the borrowing plan amid a time of low interest rates.
However, it came up against criticism from mayor Peta Pinson who labelled it "irresponsible", while Member for Port Macquarie Leslie Williams said council had missed funding opportunities.
General manager Craig Swift-McNair will bring a report to the October council meeting detailing a proposal, including implications, for the council to borrow on commercial terms or otherwise raise $25 million for the six projects.
There's a clear cost benefit of bringing the expenditure on infrastructure forward.Cr Justin Levido
The Camden Haven projects are Schools to Schools ($900,000), the Beach to Beach project ($900,000) and Lake Innes and Lake Cathie estuary system investigative works and/or construction works ($1 million).
Rollands Plains Community Group president Raymond Griffiths said the inclusion of Bril Bril Road in the proposal was a pleasing start, however the group wanted to see a rural roads strategy as well.
Jason Koenig from Schools to Schools said he was very much in support of the proposal to add an allocation of funds towards the Schools to Schools project.
Schools to Schools is working with all levels of government to see the Camden Haven connected via a shared pathway from Kendall to Laurieton.
Cr Levido said the council needed to be open to the times, be flexible and always be on the lookout for opportunities to get a better bang for the buck.
"There's a clear cost benefit of bringing the expenditure on infrastructure forward," he said.
Cr Levido said his impression of council's role was to use its resources for the betterment of the community.
He said in our part of the world, council did that by providing good infrastructure.
Mayor Peta Pinson said she could not in good faith support an intent which put our community in debt for 20 years.
I believe this is an irresponsible move.Mayor Peta Pinson
The mayor stressed if the proposal was supported, a loan would be forthcoming for projects not listed as a council priority.
"I believe this is an irresponsible move and we must remember that we have agreed to delivering an $84 million operational plan to our community," she said.
Cr Pinson pointed to a missed opportunity for our community to gain state government funding for the Boundary Street upgrade.
She said Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams wanted to see the project delivered and was prepared to assist with funding but the application was not lodged.
Cr Levido said having been on council for seven years, he was over discussions on what said what.
He said the projects he had chosen came from seven years' experience on council and projects that were falling through the cracks.
I am disappointed that council chose not to apply for the state government funding but in lieu are now considering borrowing finance for the project which will be a cost to ratepayers.Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams
Mrs Williams confirmed she strongly urged the council more than 12 months ago to apply for Boundary Street upgrade funding under the Growing Local Economies fund.
"This was a real opportunity for council to significantly improve this gateway to Port Macquarie and the region but the offer was declined because it was council's view that the $15 million would not allow the improved road to reach a one in 100 year flood free access," Mrs Williams said.
"I am disappointed that council chose not to apply for the state government funding but in lieu are now considering borrowing finance for the project which will be a cost to ratepayers."
Meanwhile, Cr Sharon Griffiths said one of her concerns was that the councillors didn't have a lot of detail or information on the borrowing proposal.
She said the council should be cautious about borrowing money which it still had to pay interest on.
Deputy mayor Lisa Intemann said this was not a decision to borrow the money but a decision to assess the feasibility of borrowing funds.
She supported the identified projects apart from The Hatch because of its unique circumstances.
Cr Geoff Hawkins said this was the kind of bold initiative the council needed to make, while Cr Rob Turner saw the proposal as a visionary opportunity for the future.
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