The Inaugural meeting of the Port Stephens Holiday Park Reserve Trust was held at Port Stephens Council Committee rooms at 5.30pm 13 November 2012.
The new Trust was required to be set up after an audit by the accountancy firm Deloittes was requested by the State Government to examine the way that Port Stephens Council was managing it’s Holiday Parks on Crown leases and concluded that it was not satisfactory.
This March 2011 Audit has been the subject or a freedom of information request By TRRA Inc. since it was provided to Council at a cost of $70,000.00. The Government had no problem with us having access to the document but the Council objected and has now appealed it to the Information Commissioner and we are still awaiting it’s release. It must be of some significance…….
Part of a letter from the Department Of Primary industries stated:
“As Council is aware one of the objective of providing Holiday Parks on Crown reserved land is to provide recreational facilities for the people of NSW and the travelling public. A further benefit of the Crown Holiday Parks is the generation of revenue to enable the development and improvement of the facilities of the Crown Holiday Park and any Crown reserve under the Trust Managers control. Excess funding may then be allocated to other reserve trusts for the improvement of other Crown reserves, with the consent of the Minister administering the Crown Lands Act. It is contrary to Council’s role as trust manager for income derived from Crown caravan parks to be used for Council’s works and services on land other than Crown reserves managed by the Trust.
Council’s recent management of these Crown Holiday Parks has not provided an appropriate financial return which has resulted in a substantial loss of funding to enable works on the Crown Holiday Parks and other Crown Reserves. This has not been in the interests of the people of NSW who have an expectation of an appropriate return from the management of such facilities. Furthermore the Crown estate has been disadvantaged as works required on the Crown reserves have not been able to be financed.
To assist Council to improve its management of these Crown Holiday Park Reserve Trusts,Crown Lands are prepared to work closely with Council. The schedule attached identifies a number of operational criteria that need to be worked through between Crown Lands and Council.
Schedule, Operational Criteria:
1. Investment and accountability of Trust funds as required by the Crown Lands Act 1989;
2. Trust reserve funds accumulated from surplus income derived from these parks to be allocated to Council’s Trust management account for these parks;
3. Utilisation of Trust funds on appropriate Crown Reserves;
4. Rationalisation of Park overheads;
5. Investments in accordance with Trustees Act 1925 and Section 107 of Crown Lands Act 1989;
6. Appropriate and timely reporting of any expenditure of funding provided to Council from Public Reserve Management Fund in accordance with conditions of such funding;
7. Council to provide accurate and complete reports as required in Crown Lands CRRS;
8. Adoption of the NSW Government Procurement and Crown Lands Procurement Guidelines;
9. Finalisation of Plans of Management (POM) and Business Plans for each caravan park ;
10. Reduction in the number of Holiday Vans, as identified in an adopted POM;
11. A strategy for on-site sale of caravans;
12. Develop guidelines, standards and induction package for holiday vans;
13. Maintain or reinstate the consultation process with caravan park patrons;
14. Council initiates actions from questions in Deloitte report responded to by Council in 2011 but not included in the above criteria.”
Consequently the new trust was set up to provide better transparency into the management of the parks. “The funding necessary for the operational and capital expenditure is accommodated within the Port Stephens Holiday Park Trust Reserve. The total reserve balance as at 30 June 2012 is $6,507,222.”
Detailed ‘Plans Of Management’ including expenditure budgets were tabled for each of the Holiday Parks which gave financial projections of returns through to 2018 that balanced the expected expenditure in the trust.
These included substantial expansions and changes of use of sites at Fingal, Halifax and Shoal Bay Holiday Parks and 8 options to address the future of the loss making Samurai Resort. Encroachment onto a high pressure HVW sewer easement at Fingal over the years must be remedied ant a further cost of $207,000.00.
A controversial recommendation to revisit the extension of Halifax Park into the adjacent Lot 424 park was rejected by Trust members present with the exception of Clr. Mackenzie.
More information will be posted as it comes to hand.