Council coffers take a hit from failed land sale

Failed land sales, expected to add almost $4.9 million to Orange City Council’s coffers were the main reason the council ended the quarter with a $218,098 loss.

Last July, the council called for expressions of interest from developers to buy more than 95,900 square metres of council-owned land on the outskirts of the city, starting from the Mitchell Highway and backing onto Lone Pine Avenue and Bunnings.

While the land attracted a formal submission from one developer, and informal interest from others wanting to capitalise on the bulky goods zoning, the parcel of land at the gateway was just one area in Orange the council was unable to sell-off, leading to the multimillion shortfall.

But finance policy committee chair, councillor Chris Gryllis said the council was doing the right thing by keeping the gateway land and other industrial land at the old saleyards until the right proposal came along.

“We’re there for the needy not the greedy,” he said.

“If someone does something it should benefit the whole town. We don’t want a fire sale. If we sell to speculators that land won’t be used for a long time.”

Corporate and commercial services director Kathy Woolley blamed the lack of interest on a flat commercial property market.

“We did get some interest but we’re not going to get that through this financial year,” she said.

“The good story in this is that council is in a financial position where it can manage that kind of cash issue.”

While the anticipated land sales did not eventuate, other land sales are expected to net the council $1 million in the next quarter and potentially a further $2 million if options on land are taken up early in the next financial year, Ms Woolley said.

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