Council land sell-off could save financial situation
AS MANY as 25 blocks of vacant council-owned land could be on the chopping block as the Southern Downs Regional Council looks to boost its financial position.
According to real estate statistics obtained by the Daily News, the council owns more than 110 properties in the Warwick area alone.
That figure includes parks and buildings, as well as vacant rural and commercial blocks.
In 2015 the council moved to begin selling off a number of vacant properties, including a prime commercial block on the corner of Albion and Fitzroy Sts.
The 2436sq m block, which sits opposite the council chambers in Warwick, was purchased by the council from Telstra for $275,000 in 2005.
It has now been placed under contract at an undisclosed price.
Another block at Owen Scrub Rd in Leyburn has also been sold by the council.
The 13.35ha parcel of land sold for $35,000 plus GST.
It's likely more blocks will be sold before the end of the year.
CEO David Keenan has confirmed the council was looking at potentially selling a number of other properties.
"There are approximately 20-25 lots that have the potential to be sold, ranging from rural lots to vacant land in urban environments," he said.
"Many of the sites have constraints.
"Council must undertake a valuation for the land before disposing of the land."
The sales could potentially inject millions of dollars into the council's budgets, with a final estimate yet to be calculated.
Mr Keenan said no money had been placed in the budget or forecasted for the sale of land.
"Funds received by council from the disposal of land will be reported back to council into the second or third quarter budget review," he said.
The move to cut back the council's property portfolio has been welcomed by real estate agent and councillor candidate Trevor Devine.
Mr Devine has long advocated for the council to dispose of property not being used.
"Finally someone has woken up - it's the way to go," he said. "Every one you sell is one more lot of rates you'll collect."
According to Mr Devine, the CEO's figure of 20 to 25 lots was just the tip of the iceberg.
"There's quite a few buildings and other council-owned land in Warwick and Stanthorpe - all around the shire - that could be sold," he said.