By Michael Giles

ON THE surface of it, the Cowes Cultural Centre doesn’t appear to stack up financially.
Even at this stage, before it has been designed much less built, the shire has acknowledged it will cost $19 million of which Bass Coast is planning to borrow $15 million.
But you can bet before the centre is finished its cost will be well over the $20 million mark.
It’s just plain dumb for the shire to be stumping up that much of its own cash when it should be leveraging a lesser amount against government grant money.
But that aside there’s one small detail about the project that the community should be informed about before the shire commits ratepayers to such generational debt.
And that is ‘what is it going to cost local community groups to use it?’
The community is yet to see the business case for the new community centre and, in particular, what groups like Offshore Theatre can expect to pay for their rehearsals and performances.
We’re told that costs to community groups could be so high as to force them out into local halls and other spaces to run their events.
We also haven’t seen projected borrowing costs.
Instead of spending $19 million on the cultural centre, spend a few million on extending the present facility, add moveable seating and keep the grand plan ‘shovel ready’ for the day when the State Government accepts its responsibility and builds the centre the growing community of Phillip Island is entitled to.
In the meantime, buy the land for the aquatic centre and get on with building the community’s number one priority.