Council sale of Blue Haven Illawarra aged care home and retirement village in doubt

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A decision by Kiama Council to sell its Blue Haven Illawarra aged care home and Bonaira Village will now go to a rescission motion to overturn the decision on Monday.

“I have considered the rescission motion and I will seek to have it included as a confidential item in next week’s proposed Extraordinary Meeting, where we will also be debating the draft Community Strategic Plan, the Development & Operational Plan and the Budget,” said Kiama Council Mayor Neil Reilly in a Council statement.

The recission motion was proposed by Independent Councillor Karen Renkema-Lang and supported by Greens councillors Kathy Rice and Jodi Keast. This is despite last week’s majority vote of seven to two supporting a plan to begin the sale of Blue Haven Illawarra.

Councillor Renkema-Lang, along with Councillors Rice, Keast and Imogen Draisma, had wanted the Blue Haven Illawarra decision delayed until the Council’s financial position was known and a range of cost-saving options were put before Council.

Kiama Council CEO Jane Stroud (pictured) said at the meeting when it was agreed to sell Blue Haven Illawarra that “Council’s very existence is no longer viable financially without immediate and significant action”.

“As CEO, I’ve laid out a proposed way forward, in the face of an unsustainable environment where Council operates a complex aged care business, side by side with its core local government responsibilities. This environment is negatively affecting all aspects of the Council, and the Blue Haven businesses, and cannot continue to be supported financially without significant risk to our liquidity and solvency.”

The Blue Haven Illawarra Bonaira Village cost the Council $106 million, which was $50 million more than it had planned. The business comprises 259 independent living units and a 134-bed aged care home.

Gilmore Labor MP Fiona Phillips, state Shellharbour MP Anna Watson (also Labor) and head of the South Coast Labour Council, Arthur Rorris, have also publicly called for the sale decision to be overturned.