Council discusses ratepayer levy or changing use for idle NRLX

Buying and selling at the Casino All Breeds sale – the only sale to happen at the NRLX in the past seven weeks.

Susanna Freymark

Before the Richmond Valley Council meeting, Councillor Robert Hayes put forward questions about the Northern Rivers Livestock Exchange.

At the meeting in Casino on Tuesday, August 15, those questions were answered by council’s general manager Vaughan Macdonald.

The questions and answers seemed rehearsed.

Several livestock agents sat in the public gallery listening. None of them chose to use the public access time to give their point of view.

It is important to note that IndyNR.com does not have any affiliation with the council, agents or cattle farmers.

Reporting on the NRLX-agent standoff has been difficult for us with both parties relying on statements and not interviews to tell their side of the dispute.

We have offered and continue to offer an invitation to any party in the dispute –  including council and the Casino Auctioneers Association – for an interview about their views.

Here is the background Mr Hayes gave for his questions at the council meeting: “We are now nearly seven weeks into no sales at the Northern Rivers Livestock Exchange due to agents refusing to sign the licence agreements to operate at the facility, leaving doubt over the future of the NRLX as a livestock selling facility.”

What is the current value of the complex?

The current value is $28.5million.

Is council able to lease the complex and what would that entail?

Council has the authority to lease the facility. Council could go to tender and if there was a successful tender there would be a contract process similar to how the council leases its two quarries.

What other business uses could the complex be suited for?

Options considered are a privately operated saleyards; a boutique livestock sales facility such as for horses; or a covered green waste organics processing facility.

If, prior to June 30 with the previous selling permit and fees in place, a special rate levy was applied across all ratepayers within the Richmond Valley local government area to bring the NRLX business to a break-even operating result, allowing for all expenditure including maintenance, borrowing costs and depreciation, what would that levy be?

Based on the financial year 22/23 there is a $647,000 deficit. There are 10,828 rateable properties in Richmond Valley.

A flat rate levy would be $60 per property to fund the NRLX deficit so that NRLX breaks even.

What are the potential impacts for council if serious Work Health & Safety issues occur at the facility?”

As the PCBU (a person conducting a business or undertaking) I must ensure the health and safety of all workers.

Any injury or death at the saleyards means a fine or even imprisonment for the PCBU.

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The public can watch the livestream on council’s Facebook page of this council meeting.

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