Wodonga's rates relief

WODONGA Council looks set to become the sole owner of its Hovell Street offices again — for a cool $1.23 million.

Councillors will tonight vote on a staff recommendation to buy back the floor of office space occupied by North East Water until November.

It has been vacant since water authority staff moved to new $14 million premises in Thomas Mitchell Drive.

The council was forced to transfer 29 per cent of the building to the newly formed Kiewa Murray Water in 1976 because that proportion of the original cost was taken from water and sewerage funds that year.

If the deal is approved, it would put to rest speculation council wants to build new headquarters to replace the ageing building.

Director for business services Trevor Ierino said the sale would address the council’s long-term accommodation needs. 

The council would use a $1.2 million surplus from the sale of land at Logic during the 2012-13 financial year, to pay for the 760 square-metre floor space.

Mr Ierino’s report said the council had decided in October to save the surplus for the possible purchase of the North East Water offices.

“The proposed purchase can now, therefore, be funded from land sales in its entirety rather than from rates revenue over the next three years,” the report said.

“In other words, there will be no increase in rates needed to fund this purchase.”

The council has 130 employees based at Hovell Street and is “at capacity”, according to the report, with a lack of meeting-room space and overcrowding in several areas.

But not all the extra space would be needed at once, leaving open the possibility of the council subletting part of the offices to generate extra income.

In November, The Border Mail reported the council was considering its options for the future, prompted by North East Water vacating the building.

In 2011, consultants were paid $70,000 to investigate bringing the council offices up to modern-day standards.

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