Hanging in the balance

Hanging Rock’s income and expenditure were balanced for the 2012-13 financial year, at $527,551.

However, it was a perceived dire financial situation that alarmed council so much, it moved to pursue an accommodation development at its August meeting, and again at the following special meeting.

Quarterly reports during the last financial year are financially positive for Hanging Rock. September 2012 reports a net variation of $11,387, commenting, ‘General entry income higher than expected at this stage resulting in a favourable budget position’. December 2012 net is $26,784, attributed to an additional craft market in December and greater than expected general entry attendances (this factors in an expenditure increase, largely attributed to unexpected tree safety works). March 2013 and June 2013 break even, with reports stating, ‘Program is within acceptable budget parameters’, and, ‘Increased income from concerts provided greater than anticipated surplus transfer to reserves. Overall budget of nil cost to council achieved.’.

Hanging Rock Action Group member and Newham resident, Hilary Roberts, has been questioning the situation since the controversial development decision was made.

“In the meeting paper of August 28, (council officers) put up three alternatives to the councillors. The first was that they have a major development, the second option is that a $300,000 loss is charged to ratepayers, or the third is to hand it back to the state,” Mr Roberts said.

Mr Roberts said no substantiation was made of what the $300,000 loss was.

Although Hanging Rock’s finances are balanced, council’s manager of recreation and culture, Rod Clough, said that $300,000 per annum is what is estimated to be needed for long-awaited infrastructure and environmental works at the Rock.

“The conditions of a lot of our facilities out at Hanging Rock are in desperate need of repair,” Mr Clough said.

“For example, the racing club buildings – the ’93 plan says we should be doing something to improve those, so in 20 odd years we haven’t been able to do that. The tennis courts are cracking, and toilets need significant work.

“Those are the things that are driving the needs, there’s also various environmental factors such as rabbits, weeds, the need to revegetate the reserve, and improve fencing to keep out cats and dogs.

“Basically it’s an opportunity to get external income that would support that,” he said.

Mr Clough said last year’s two Bruce Springsteen concerts brought extra income to the Rock, at a level which may not be consistent in potential future concerts.

He said income from a development at the Rock would be secure for council.

“It would be tied into a lease with the potential developer, locking it in legally,” he said.”There’s significant challenges with our environment and infrastructure at Hanging Rock, so we would welcome an additional source of income and one that you could rely on.”

Concerts at Hanging Rock helped balance its financial position in recent years.

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