Art of persuasion: Gallery paper 'biased'

ALBURY councillor Darren Cameron last night raised serious concerns about a document prepared by staff outlining funding options to meet the current shortfall for the $10.5 million art gallery redevelopment.

Cr Cameron claimed  the document was “very much weighted” towards the council stumping up an extra $3.5 million so the project goes ahead.

He said the document shouldn’t advocate a position on the project.

Cr Cameron is prepared to attempt to have the document scrapped from the community consultation process which starts tonight with a public forum at the Albury Entertainment Centre.

His comments during the community and cultural committee last night put him on a collision course with senior staff members including acting general manager Michael Keys on the contentious issue.

The brochure circulated widely since last Friday states there would be no increase in rates if 

council agreed to double its existing contribution.

But, trade-offs would occur with other projects including the Lavington Oval expansion and the next stage of the emergency management centre being delayed.

The brochure also states $18.2 million in cash reserves are available to cover the existing shortfall provided the council re-prioritised some long-term projects.

Cr Cameron said he felt the position agreed by councillors at a workshop last Monday had changed.

“My principal concern is that this document advocates a case of spending $7 million rather than $3.5 million,” Cr Cameron said.

“But it was not the intention, in my opinion, last Monday to produce a document that advocated for one proposition over another.

“The proposition I thought would have been these are the pros of contributing $7 million and these are the cons.

“I can’t see any cons articulated in this document.”

Mr Keys said he felt the “imprimatur” from the workshop was to put all the cards on the table for the community about the project including funding scenarios.

“I believe that the statement made (in the brochure) is trying to provide advice to the community about direct impact on the additional $3.5 million on the rates,” he said.

“It can be funded by loan funding or cash reserves as we have discussed previously and been part of a previous report to council.

“I apologise if there is any misconception.”

Cr Cameron said the existing “massive support”, as outlined in the brochure, for the project was based on equal funding between federal, state and local government and not the current scenario.

Darren Cameron.

Darren Cameron.