Melbourne City slugged with debt The price the Council are prepared to pay for for Melbourne’s new designer region

Melbourne City Council regains control of the Melbourne Docklands precinct with a debt of over 8 Million Dollars raising ongoing concern over the mismanagement of the Docklands Development. The Docklands project and its management was the responsibility of the formerly Kennett State Government who basically issued the Docklands development authority free range and an open checkbook. The Docklands development whilst transforming an industrial wasteland was poorly managed with questionable benefits arsing from major planning and financial mismanagement.

Three Stars to Former Melbourne City Councillor Kevin Chamberlain who has been on top of this issue over the life of the project. John So and his team are so keen to claim the Docklands as part of Melbourne the financial management issues are the furthest from the Council’s mind. The City Council has been left picking up the tab and will not see any real benefits to the city for years to come. The hand over deal should have been struck so that the City was not burdened with the financial liability of past mistakes by the Docklands authority. Again we see the week negotiating skills of John So and co at work. No doubts Rob Adams and his designer team are keen to make their mark on this new canvass as they forsake their duty and responsibility to the older parts of the city. They want something new to work on. Bamboo Rob is a top shelf expensive administrator who is renowned for back flips, and questionable integrity and budget overruns.

The Hearld Sun reports

Jen Kelly

August 09, 2006 12:00am

RATEPAYERS will be slugged with an unexpected $8.4 million debt when Melbourne City Council regains control over Docklands.

Councillors last night agreed to shoulder the colossal debt when it wins back the rates-rich precinct from State Government control.

Former lord mayor Kevin Chamberlin warned ratepayers would be hit hard by the debt and the cost of providing new services for Docklands.

“This debt will result in a further cut in services and a further increase in rates,” he said.

“Given the perilous financial situation of the council, it is not capable of taking on any more State Government debt or obligation.”

The $8.4 million operating deficit has arisen as the cost of providing services to the growing suburb has outweighed rates revenue.

The council hopes to begin taking control under a “trial marriage” next month, with the final handover on July 1 next year.

Since 1999, the booming suburb has been run by VicUrban and its predecessor, the Docklands Authority, on behalf of the State Government.

The council says the debt will not impact on services or rates for Docklands or other Melbourne ratepayers.

The council’s Docklands spokesman, Cr Peter Clarke, said it was hoped the debt would be paid off from surplus revenue at Docklands over the next five years because its rates would outweigh costs of service provision.

But Mr Chamberlin warned the costs of providing services to meet high expectations from Docklands residents and businesses would far outweigh rates.

“Because of poor planning in the Docklands by the State Government, the expectations of the people now living there are very high,” he said.

“The cost of meeting some of those expectations will exceed the rates revenue received from the entire area by a considerable amount.

“The municipal infrastructure in Docklands is non-existent — child care, high-quality open space, aged care facilities, library, roads, footpaths.

“Their attitude is they’ve paid big figures for their units, they’ve been let down by the Government and now they expect the council to fill the gap.”

The council’s forecasts show the area will generate a surplus of about $1.8 million in 2007-08, with about $1 million of that to go towards the debt.

The council expects to pay off the debt in five years by committing about half the Docklands surplus each year until the debt is gone.

The council expects Docklands to reap $8.5 million in rates this financial year, rising to $46 million by 2020-21 when the suburb is finished. This would be close to a quarter of the city’s expected total rates revenue by then.

Docklands is expected to be home to 20,000 Victorians and a workplace for 25,000