Kemspey Shire Council resolved at the September council meeting to advertise an Expression of Interest (EOI) to asses the market interest of third parties in leasing and operating the Kempsey Regional Saleyards.
Councillors voted unanimously to advertise the EOI to the public by September 30 and that a report be provided, along with the final Business Plan, to a future council meeting recommending the preferred management option for the saleyards.
Councillor Dean Saul spoke for the motion at Tuesday's meeting and said this will further allow the community to have a say in how the saleyards are run.
"This is a tremendous way forward for the Kempsey Regional Saleyards, it allows interest to be declared in how the saleyards should be run," he said.
"I think there is a lot of community interest and many residents are supportive of finding the best way forward for the saleyards."
Councillor Bruce Morris amended point four of the recommendation to include that under all operating models, the saleyards will remain available as a stock refuge when advice from an emergency organisation is to move livestock due to an impending emergency. The original motion stated this would occur during a Section 44 bushfire emergency.
"When we experience floods, we have a natural disaster declared. During a flood is when most residents would use the saleyards as a stock refuge," he said.
In May 2018 council was presented with an initial overview of the strategic options available in relation to the Kempsey Regional Saleyards, which are owned and operated by council.
The report highlighted a number of issues associated with the saleyards, including a sustained period of cash deficits, increasing operational challenges, and the requirement for substantial new loan funding to deliver the proposed capital expenditure program.
The Kempsey Regional Saleyards Options Analysis report, presented to council at the June 2019 meeting, provided detailed information and analysis to support the evaluation of five options available in relation to the future operation of the saleyards. The five options were, maintain, upgrade, lease, sell or construct a new facility.
Council placed the Strategic Options Analysis report on public exhibition for 42 days to invite community feedback and based on the overwhelming support for council to retain ownership of the saleyards in the current location and the identified financial burden of constructing a new facility, council resolved that the sell and new facility options be removed from further consideration.
At the conclusion of the EOI process, council staff will assess the EOI for the lease of the saleyards against the Business Plan and present a recommendation regarding the proposed operation and management of the Kempsey Regional Saleyards to a future council meeting.