Most residents in this regional city don’t want an arts centre, but they are still set to foot $26 million bill

Ratepayers in the City of Busselton will foot the $26 million bill for a controversial performing arts centre despite most residents not wanting the project to proceed.

Key points:An independent survey found 53 per cent of respondents don’t want a new centreThe state government says it will not fund the centreThe City of Busselton will now take out a loan to add to a $10 million federal grant for the centre

The Busselton Performing Arts and Convention Centre (BPACC) was initially expected to cost about $30 million but due to a blow out in construction costs it's now going to cost $44.55 million.

In September the City resolved to continue to pursue the project despite the cost blow out and conducted a survey of residents finding 53 per cent didn't want the project to proceed.

The City lobbied the state government for support but Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan wrote to Mayor Grant Henley last month declining the request.

"I note the decision taken by Council on 8 September 2021 to proceed with construction of the BPACC on the basis that the City is in a strong financial position to more than cover the full debt required to complete the build," the letter reads.

"In light of this decision and the significant state government investment into the Busselton community in recent years, our government does not consider further State funding can be justified."

Now Busselton ratepayers will be forced to foot the bill for a $26.7 million loan from Treasury for the project to proceed.

No more public consultation

Cr Henley said the loan and ongoing costs to run the centre would impact on ratepayers.

He said they wouldn't be going out for another round of public consultation.

"We have gone out to the community with the construction costs of $38 million in total construction cost for the project, and we got that survey result back and it told us that the community was pretty split," Cr Henley said.

"I think if we went out for a survey, every time we spent money as a local government, we'd probably come back with the majority of the people in the community opposed to any expenditures.

"So, it's something that we need to balance in our decision making."

Posted 3 Nov 20213 Nov 2021Wed 3 Nov 2021 at 3:45amShareCopy linkFacebookTwitterArticle share optionsShare this onFacebookTwitterLinkedInSend this byEmailMessengerCopy linkWhatsApp

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