Today on behalf of Frankston City Council Mayor Brian Cunial released an official statement making comment on the Frankston basketball stadium expansion project which includes a number of inaccuracies and misleading information.
The Mayor is a decent person and has been a great supporter of the development of Frankston City including the Frankston & District Basketball Association (FDBA). This was reflected in the FDBA advocating for the Mayor's recent re-election. But the FDBA believes it has a right to defend itself against claims which are simply not factual which is the purpose of this statement.
There appears to be trend permeating out of council at the moment that misleading the Frankston community is acceptable. It simply isn’t. The FDBA as a key contributor to the social fabric of our community believes this trend is symbolic of why negotiations of the future lease of the expanded Frankston basketball stadium have reached this point. The FDBA believes a workable solution is achievable but for this to happen, council need to be up front and honest with not only the FDBA but the wider Frankston community.
The FACTs the Mayor & Council won’t tell you
- Lease negotiations have been the highest priority for the FDBA along with securing state & federal government investment. At the behest of the FDBA, council commenced negotiations in early 2015 regarding the future lease (not since mid-2016 as outlined in first paragraph of the Mayor’s statement) at which time an Agreement to Lease was struck in mid-July that ironically excluded any reference to lease figure. Lease negotiations have not been a last minute thing for the FDBA, only council. FACT
-In early August 2016 the FDBA received a council resolution regarding lease terms, terms which included 6% tax on FDBA income. The FDBA did not see proposed terms prior to terms were presented to council. Common sense would suggest that council officers would at least flag lease terms with the long term tenant (FDBA) prior to councillors making such an important decision, but they did not. If they had, this impasse would not be occurring. FACT
-In early September 2016 the FDBA wrote to council advising of the unsustainable nature of the proposed terms. No response was forthcoming until the FDBA received a letter from council CEO Dennis Hovendon in early February 2017 advising that to ‘award the construction contract’ (council had already promoted the contract being awarded in early January 2017) the FDBA needed to sign the unfavourable terms which the FDBA again rejected on grounds of terms being financially unsustainable. FACT
-In its statement Council advised the significant increase in rent is due to increased maintenance. This probably refers to the renewal works required on older section of facility which is currently a council responsibility including repairing leaks in roof of courts 5 & 6 which have been an existing problem for the previous 10 years that Council has been aware of including having contractor reports / costing. The rationale of increased maintenance costs on a new building simply do not add up. As per Agreement to Lease and council’s current responsibilities, council is simply responsible for maintenance to the external section of the Frankston basketball stadium e.g. landscaping, roof leaks, so what are they planning to spend the hundreds of thousands of dollars they plan to rip from the FDBAs annual income? FACT
-The real increase for the rate rise is council’s advice that council are borrowing money to invest in this project and such the FDBA is expected to repay this over a 25 year period (with council reviewing lease at the conclusion of every 5 years to see if they can claw more funds from the FDBA membership). This has been communicated by Mayor and council officers including FDBA Board members receiving a graph confirming such an assertion. FACT
-Council's analysis of other association’s rental model in Mayor’s statement is flawed with the various council’s benchmarked contributing often 90%+ in total investment towards construction costs. Frankston City are contributing 30% to the Frankston basketball stadium Council are comparing apples with pineapples with the FDBA getting the serious wrong end. FACT
-Council’s insistence to compare apples with pineapples with other associations, many who are now at loggerheads or have been at loggerheads with their respective councils is misleading and do not take into consideration that the FDBA:
-is contributing $1 million dollars of its members money without council assistance to the project
-has a clear difference in socio-economic conditions to other associations benchmarked
-and funded 100% of previous expansion of Frankston basketball stadium in 1992 ($1.65 million) without local or other government agency contributions. FACT
-In late December 2015 Council agreed to apply for planning permit which included $15 million scope of works but instead reneged on this agreement. Although $12.45m had been committed to at the time, the FDBA was confident further funding would be made available which eventuated with Member for Dunkley Chris Crewther’s election commitment of $250,000 towards retractable seating being achieved. The FDBA made the commitment to provide the balance of funds for this seating as per Council’s request but now this money cannot be used as council did not apply for the appropriate planning permit which the FDBA advised them of at the time. FACT
-The Mayor said in his statement the project’s budget is $15 million which the FDBA agrees with. This is why the FDBA activated a petition to lobby the federal government to match, dollar for dollar, the $7.5 million that was then on the table so the $15 million would be achieved. Council made the executive decision to not apply for $7.5 million to be matched, instead asked for less, initially $4 million which was unsuccessful. It was only when the FDBA became involved directly in the second round submission was the grant successful that secured an additional $950,000 on top of the $4 million council initially requested (now $5.2 million that includes $250,000 for retractable seating). FACT
-Council make reference to additional works pending further funding, the FDBA has as part of its preferred lease terms advised council that with an appropriate lease these further works could be funded which council have rejected. FACT
-What council has failed to mention is this project is delivering a $3 return for every $1 council invests of rate payer’s money. No other project is even remotely close to this type of return including the recently completed Yacht Club, which Council invested $10.7 million into (83% of total budget) and remains uncompleted & tenantless providing zero return in the foreseeable future for rate payers. FACT
-Council accuse the FDBA of a ‘winners take all approach’ and ‘holding council to ransom’. This is incorrect and offensive. The approach the FDBA is taking is as one of a not-for-profit organisation trying to stop council double dipping from rate payers via a blatant cash grab of member’s money, while trying to achieve an outcome the FDBA, state & federal governments believed we were getting when the initial project commenced. Not a situation where the FDBA is bound to pay council back its $4 million investment without getting a facility which will assist the FDBA in generating a return of its $1 million investment. FACT
-The only party holding the other to ransom is Council who have tried to bully the FDBA with veiled threats that the project will fall over if the association does not sign its unsuitable lease including setting unrealistic time frames (often 72 hours). Council have tried every trick in the book to box the FDBA Board of Management into signing unfavourable lease terms including emailing the FDBA Board of Management a draft letter addressed to the project’s builder outlining the project will be cancelled due to the FDBA not agreeing to ‘commercial lease’ of building. The stress this type of behaviour has had of members of the FDBA Board of Management is unwarranted and unprofessional. FACT
-Council alludes to a meeting with the FDBA at which time council verbally advised their resolution. This meeting took place at 6pm Wednesday 15 March 2017. The resolution stated that written agreement was required from the FDBA accepting Council’s terms by 5pm Wednesday 15 March 2017 – an hour before this meeting took place. FACT
-Council refer that any decision regarding adopting the FDBA’s preferred terms will be made in the best interests of the whole community. Basketball is the highest participated sport in the Frankston municipality according to Council’s own stats based on its inclusive nature and competitions aimed at young children to senior aged adults. In 2016 two of the FDBA’s representatives David Andersen (4-time Olympian) & Ryan Broekhoff (Olympic debut) represented Australia at the Rio Olympics, which in effect promoted Frankston City on the international stage. With the greatest respect to other sporting codes involved in the Frankston municipality, no other sport in Frankston can say it has the national and international reach the FDBA has. FACT
Councillors are elected by us, for us. In the event this much needed community project does ‘fall over’ as Council have described then the responsibility does not lie with the FDBA, state or federal governments who all share the vision what this project can achieve and ultimately deliver to the Frankston region through social; health; and economic benefits. It will solely be at the hands of those at the highest levels of Frankston City Council.
If Council go down the line of using sporting clubs in our municipality as ‘cash grab’ opportunities then sport, and by effect our community, will be the loser and that's not something the FDBA will stand for. FACT
If you would like the points raised in this statement verified please contact the FDBA via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To show your support for the FDBA in achieving favourable terms from Frankston City please contact your respective Ward Councillors. Together as a united community we can see this much need project delivered as intended!
South Ward (Frankston South, Frankston, Frankston City Centre and Langwarrin South)
Mayor Cr Brian Cunial
Office: 03 8773 9529
Mobile: 0400 236 977
Deputy Mayor Cr Steve Toms
Mobile: 0418 953 576
Cr Quinn McCormack
Mobile: 0419 446 930
North-East Ward (Carrum Downs, Langwarrin, Skye and Sandhurst)
Cr Sandra Mayer
Mobile: 0400 236 107
Mobile: 0418 721 679
Mobile: 0400 236 109
North-West Ward (Seaford, Frankston, Frankston North and Karingal)
Phone: 0417 921 644
Phone: 0419 298 838
Phone: 03 9786 3274