New brawl looms over civic centre loan


p2452 civic centre 1By ERWIN CHLANDA
Councillor Eli Melky says he wants to save the ratepayer “a minimum of $145,252.59” by using part of a cash surplus – $12m in April – to pay off the remainder of the loan for the construction of the civic centre.
The balance owing is about $1.3m. The town council is paying 6.7% interest on the loan while it is getting $2.5% for its deposits.
The council borrowed $5m in 2004 for the building whose cost was $10.4m.
However, Cr Melky has yet to find a seconder for his motion made public yesterday, and unless he does the matter will fail to be debated at Tuesday’s committee meeting and the proposal will almost certainly lapse.
Cr Melky, who is a certified credit advisor, disputes an earlier estimate that the saving would only be $16,800, which Cr Jade Kudrenko described as a “meagre” at the last meeting, and the council rejected the paying out of the loan.
He  rejects claims that the council needs substantial cash reserves for the event of unforeseen emergencies.
“What emergencies,” Cr Melky asks. “The council has comprehensive insurance to protect its assets in catastrophic events, including floods.”
With the savings he wants to establish a “future projects fund” in an interest earning term deposit account, generating more than $40,000 between now and June 30, 2020.
Under the current arrangements the council would be paying more than three times as much in interest during that period.
Cr Melky says unspent surplus, the total of which was $12m as at April 17, includes “employee costs” and “material & contract labour” which could be used for the payout of the loan.
In his notice of motion published on the council’s website yesterday Cr Melky says: “This information has been discussed extensively with qualified members of the finance industry.
“In my opinion, it is in the best interest of the community to review the discussion from the council meeting on May 29 and support this motion.”
The Alice Springs News Online will be seeking comment from other council members over this long weekend.
Meanwhile the father of a child going to a community child care centre wrote to the News that the council, “despite a massive budget surplus this year” has raised the fees they charge to the centres for repairs and maintenance across town.
“At the Gap Community Childcare Centre this has led to a 10% increase in childcare fees!”
AT TOP: Google Earth image of the sprawling civic centre complex.


  1. All too often elected people tend to just worry about their term and not care about the future. I think this is what we are seeing here… apart from Eli who appears to want what is best for the town and not just what is best for this year.
    Can we please see the sums and have someone justify the decision?
    [ED – Please note the link in the story to Cr Melky’s motion.]

  2. It would appear that the business accumin of Cr. Melky is spot on. I have always paid business borrowings rapidly. It there is an emergency need of cash then arrange more credit with the bank immediately. Always pay off debts to minimize interest costs.
    I will now have to vote for Cr. Melky at the next election … BUT … whom will I cross off my voting list as a result?

  3. In days gone by when the ratepayers of Alice Springs had concerns about matters that would affect them there were public forums held to debate or justify the direction we should go.
    This process was a democratic way for us all to have a say and make proposals in the interests of not only the ratepayers but also in the interests of every person who provided input into this wonderful town.
    I propose a public forum or forums be held to gauge public sentiment on the matter Cr. Melky is raising further to his discussing it in council.

  4. I agree with both comments here.
    Old Mates’ comment “Can we please see the sums” is a very fair but tall request because the council will never share that sort of information.
    Doing so, would put in question their ability to correctly manage our money.
    Considering the “ASTC” monies, really belongs to the ratepayers, transparency should be mandated.
    It’s all very well and important, to have councilors with varying knowledge and experience, but in the end it does come down to money.
    I vote, lets see the numbers and obtain an outside opinion if necessary.

  5. As a former resident of this great town and now returned, with family working here, I’d just like to say that I attended the last council meeting and was the ONLY person from the general ratepaying community left in the meeting at closing time, apart from reporters and elected representatives.
    At the beginning of each meeting ratepayers may ask questions, may I suggest a few people actually take an interest and attend the meetings, each and all, and ask questions?
    Just a thought.

  6. Councillor Eli Melky says he wants to save the ratepayer “a minimum of $145,252.59”
    According to an earlier and different estimate the saving would only be $16,800.
    The difference in estimates equals $128,452.59.

  7. DR Who, I do believe that all ratepayers are represented at council meetings, as the councillors are elected to speak, act, or be present officially for a person or group.
    If I have a question, I contact one or all councillors, it is easier and simple.


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