IN a bid to ensure cattle sales can resume as soon as possible at the Northern Rivers Livestock Exchange (NRLX), Richmond Valley Council unanimously voted to lease the facility for a long-term period at its meeting last night.
In a report prepared by General Manager Vaughan Macdonald, it was recommended Council transitioned out of direct management of the facility and proceed to an open-market tender, seeking applications from suitably qualified and experienced entities to manage future activities.
The report says a lease could be structured, offered and negotiated to remove any financial burden on Council and its ratepayers, and provide a return on the asset to the community. Council has successfully leased its Peterson and Woodview quarries along similar lines, ensuring a positive return to ratepayers.
Mr Macdonald said with Council approving the lease option, an independent evaluation process would be established to ensure the required levels of probity and integrity were built into the process.
He said following completion of the independent assessment, a report would be brought to Council to consider the recommendations and determine an outcome.
“With Council resolving to proceed in this direction, a lease offer document and draft lease contract will be prepared without delay, with appropriate commercial advice sought to determine the best lease structure and timeframes to maximise producer and ratepayer benefits, and then be put to the open market,” Mr Macdonald said.
Mr Macdonald said it was important efforts continued to restore sales at the facility and reduce the impacts on local producers.
He said Council had received interest from other agencies who wished to establish operations at the facility and these negotiations would continue with a view to achieving a short-term solution.
“The door remains open for any of the four individual agencies who were successful in the EOI process to engage in meaningful discussions on an interim solution, but details of what that could look like need to be provided in good faith,” Mr Macdonald said.
“Any agency which previously applied unsuccessfully can also reapply under the ongoing open EOI process.”