Newcastle Council will use tonight’s final ordinary meeting to vote on a proposal to hand over 7 childcare centres to community groups.

The plan could lead to higher fees as individual centres struggle to pay transfer costs and then council rates, prompting calls to put the decision
on hold until after the local government elections.

Councillor Nuatali Nelmes says there could be thousands of dollars in hidden costs if the deal is approved.

“When you change titles the Office of State Revenue takes stamp duty, and we’re not sure if these properties will be exempt.” She said.

“It could be $35 000. It’s a really messy process and unfortunately that process has not only been closed to the community, its been closed to councillors.”

An alternative in the form of long term leasing has been proposed by the dissenting Councillors, providing certainty to childcare centres while avoiding the full impact of rates and duties.

The proposal will be debated tonight.