Funding options would have been explored by Dubbo Regional Council if it had been given the chance to buy Wellington aged care facility Bellhaven, reports mayor Ben Shields.
He has come under fire from ratepayers since announcing that the council could have looked at acquiring the facility if it had known that owner Orana Gardens Ltd was seeking to have it deregistered.
Residents of Bellhaven are set to be moved to Wellington’s Maranatha House and other aged care facilities in Dubbo during the first week of October.
Orana Gardens Ltd has begun the process of deregistering Bellhaven, where resident numbers have dropped and rising costs are reported to have made the facility “unviable”.
On the Daily Liberal’s Facebook page, ratepayers have protested at the idea of the council moving into aged care.
“Dubbo Regional Council does not have a bottomless pot of money for you to spend on ill-conceived, knee- jerk responses to events outside of council’s areas of responsibility,” wrote Steph O’Dell.
Jayne Griggs said the council had “no business in using ratepayers’ money for purchasing Bellhaven”.
On Friday the Daily Liberal asked Cr Shields how the purchase and operations of Bellhaven might have been funded and “would any ratepayer dollars be used?”
“It is impossible to know completely what council’s options were because we weren’t given the opportunity to investigate the full situation,” he said in response.
“Any discussion is hypothetical but there would have been the potential for council to talk to other levels of government and explore options for the funding of the purchase and ongoing running of Bellhaven.”
Cr Shields said council’s potential to buy Bellhaven was raised in discussions with its chief executive officer Michael McMahon, senior staff and “available councillors”.
“..we agreed it was an option that could have at least been explored, even if it was ultimately unviable,” he said.