The following FAQ has been prepared by Council in partnership with the BHP Billiton Foundation:
What is the background on the BHP Billiton Foundation (the Foundation) funding?
Council was awarded $5.7 million from the Foundation in 2016 to build parklets, relocate the city's Outback Archives to the basement of Council's Administrative Centre, and digitise documents and other items of importance to the city's history.
So what happened with those projects?
The parklets project and the relocation of the Archives to the basement turned out not to have the level of community support Council was entirely comfortable with, and the cost to deliver both those projects was going to be far greater than initially envisioned. In February this year, Councillors voted to halt those projects, and instead develop plans for the construction of a new library and cultural precinct.
How did the Foundation feel about this?
The Foundation understands Council's decision not to continue with the parklets and Archive relocation projects and remains willing to consider alternative proposals that seek to better meet the community’s needs while maintaining consistency with the original purpose of the donation.
So what is happening with the money now?
Council had received half of the $5.7 million donation, and spent around $500,000 on software, planning and design for the originally slated projects. However the balance of funds held by Council will be returned to the Foundation.
Why does Council need to give the money back?
Council has commenced planning and design work on a revised project scope to submit to the Foundation for consideration, rather than building the parklets and Archives relocation. As the Foundation is a United States-based charitable organisation subject to US regulation, any donated funds that are not being used for their original purpose must be returned.
Does that mean the money is gone?
No. Once the alternative proposal has been developed, Council will request that the Foundation Board approves the reallocation of the previous donation to a project to replace the parklets and Archive relocation. The prospect of a new library and cultural precinct has been strongly supported by the community, and Council believe this would be an ideal alternative project.
When will Council have plans for the new library and cultural precinct to take to the Foundation?
A tender for the design of the new library and surrounding cultural precinct opened on June 2. Council will also look to proceed with the digitisation of items of significant importance to the city's history.