$100k council gift could expand USC campus
GYMPIE council has dangled a $100,000 carrot for the region's future education, but questions have been raised about why ratepayers must foot any cost at all.
Councillors approved the pitch to expand Gympie's USC campus at yesterday's meeting, giving conditional support for upgrades to the empty TAFE building next door.
The funding is for stage one of the proposed upgrades and is contingent on USC's ability to deliver the rest of the work without further money from the council.
"Council acknowledges that it is vital for Gympie to offer a wide range of educational opportunities for its residents," a council spokeswoman said.
"The ability for school leavers or mature-age students to have access to up-to-date educational facilities is imperative."
While Gympie MP Tony Perrett welcomed the promise, he questioned why the bill was being left at ratepayers' doors.
"It is a great shame that Gympie ratepayers are being asked to cough up their hard-earned money to fill the gap left by the State Government's refusal to support local tertiary education opportunities for Gympie residents," he said.
"Ratepayers' dollars are valuable and they should be spent wisely and prudently.
"Right across the region, everybody is complaining about unreasonable rate increases of up to 10per cent to fund a wide range of council projects in addition to the traditional roads, rates and rubbish."
He was surprised no one had written or spoken to him about the idea, despite his more than three-year fight to get a USC lease for the building.
And while he was "cautiously encouraged" that under a new minister this "ridiculous impasse" would be resolved, so far his efforts had yielded little.
"While the minister has sat on this for nine months, taxpayers' dollars have been wasted as this building deteriorates while a willing tenant who will pay for a lease and refurbishment is begging to gain access," Mr Perrett said.
"There has also been no response to my requests the state restore the building to a workable condition as an act of good faith, or my genuine invite to the minister to come to Gympie to see why the university should be given a lease.
"This is not about politics, it is about prudent and sensible use of taxpayers' dollars and assets, and now ratepayers' dollars as well."