WENTWORTH Shire Council has “agreed to a price” to purchase the former Wentworth Services Club building, and is expected to take ownership in six weeks.

Mayor Bill Wheeldon confirmed this week that negotiations had progressed to where both parties had agreed on a selling price, and that he expected the deal to be finalised by mid-August.

“That is my hope,” he said. “Once everything is finalised we will head in slowly, and at the moment there is nothing set in concrete as to what we are going to do, or when we might be moving in.

“I would, however, like to think that we would be moving something in by Christmas.”

Negotiations to purchase the vacant building began last week, following a Council resolution to grant Cr Wheeldon and general manager, Peter Kozlowski, the authority to enter into contractual arrangements.

Council had allocated $850,000 in its Draft 2016/17 Operational Plan “to purchase and fit out the Wentworth Services Club building,” which has remained vacant since June 2015.

With councillors voting last week to adopt the Operational Plan (with only four amendments), it opened the door for the Mayor and general manager to pursue plans to purchase the building.

The site was identified as a possible new location for Council’s offices and chambers in May this year, and formed part of the Sustainable Wentworth Strategy, which aimed to establish “an agreed vision for the future of Wentworth,” develop a plan to facilitate future development and ensure services required both now, and in the future, are provided for the community’s benefit.

Council’s desire to relocate to the Wentworth Services Club site has also received public support, with a petition supporting the purchase (signed by 500 residents) also tabled at last week’s meeting.

Amendments to the 2016/17 Operational Plan include the addition of $100,000 in consultancies for the Buronga Landfill, $20,000 to paint the Wentworth Pool and $260,000 of expenditure in its Water Fund.

A notation demonstrating Council’s support of a proposal from the George Gordon Oval User Group to purchase and develop a plot of land for a second oval (subject to a full costing and feasibility study) was also added.

The Shire’s proposed $18million capital expenditure program (an increase of $6million, or 50.57 percent, on the 2015/16 budget) is also scheduled to go ahead, and will include $3million toward the Wentworth Aerodrome Runway project, $1.161million in additional Roads to Recovery funding and $900,000 towards the Midway Centre redevelopment.

Also included is $1.3million to construct a new cell at the Buronga Landfill, $575,000 to deliver further riverfront enhancements at James King Park, $350,000 to enhance riverfront access at Dareton and Curlwaa and $1.25million to commence sewer relocation works in Wentworth and Dareton.

Council also resolved at last week’s meeting to increase ordinary rates for 2016/17 by the maximum 1.80 percent (determined by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal of NSW).

Fees and charges for sewer and water services for 2016/17 will be as set out in the annual statement of revenue (an increase of 1.8 percent), with Councillors also opting to charge the maximum eight percent interest on overdue rates and charges as determined by the NSW Minister for Local Government.

Council’s Draft 2016/17 Operational Plan was placed on public exhibition for 28 days following its May meeting, with several submissions received during that time prior to last week’s amendments and final adoption.