Volunteer lifesavers hope eleventh-hour talks will reverse what they say is a rubbish decision by council to charge them almost $10,000 in tipping fees.
Batemans Bay Surf Life Saving Club’s Tony Vella and Ken Bellette say the club has received a bill for that amount from Eurobodalla Shire Council after a clubhouse renovation.
Stage one of the revamp of the Malua Bay building has been funded through a $330,000 NSW Government grant and a $60,000 interest-free loan from the council.
However, Mr Bellette, the builder and also a club member, said the work struck trouble early.
“We found one of the upper floor concrete slabs had a lot of concrete cancer,” he said.
“We knew the club was condemned, but this turned out to be very, very dangerous.
“We had to demolish the slab and that is where a lot of the costs have come from.
“We had volunteers knock it down, it was all broken up, separated and taken to the tip in various piles.
“A lot of it would have been reclaimable.”
However, the club has since been charged, a decision that has disappointed Mr Bellette, who worked at a discounted rate on the project.
“We have had the place valued and by the time we are finished, we will have built in $500,000 worth of assets to the area,” he said.
“That has been through goodwill and a lot of free labour.
“We don’t mind mostly helping out ourselves, but geez, if we can do that much, surely the council can come along with $9000?”
Mr Bellette said the council had agreed to waive about $1500 in earlier fees, but negotiations were continuing on this latest expense.
Mr Vella also wants the bill waived.
“We feel strongly the council should be a little more community-minded and waive the tip fees,” he said.
“There is so much more we could do with that money.”
Bega MP Andrew Constance agreed.
“The council should take the waste and not charge thousands of dollars in tip fees,” he said.
“I don’t think anyone would begrudge a local community group which is there to save lives.
“I am sure ratepayers won’t have a problem with it.”
Mr Bellette said he understood that Broulee Surfers Surf Life Saving Club, which recently received $360,000 in NSW Government funding to renovate its clubhouse, would have tip fees waived.
“I have it from reliable sources that the council has told Broulee they will waive the tip fees for their new project,” he said.
He said the issue had been a thorn in the Batemans Bay club’s side for several months, but was heartened by talks in the past week.
“It is looking hopeful but at the moment we still owe more than $9000,” he said.
The council could not respond to questions from the Bay Post/Moruya Examiner by the time of print.