FCO to face restructure if council fails to provide funding

FRASER Coast Opportunities could become insolvent if a funding extension is not granted by the new Fraser Coast Regional Council on Wednesday. 

The $2.1 million in funding from the council to the tourism and economic body will cease on June 30, leaving the organisation's future uncertain.

Without the financial injection from the council, FCO will also lose the $390,000 provided by Tourism and Events Queensland.

The funding uncertainty comes as the organisation's interim general manager Leigh Bennett and chairman Paul Cotton reveal they will not continue at FCO after June 30.

About 20 FCO staff face an uncertain future as councillors debate the success of the organisation's work.

"FCO is at a critical juncture - our funding from council is not guaranteed," Dr Cotton said.

"The solvency of FCO is in question."

A three-year plan also must be lodged with TEQ by mid-May to ensure the body's funding is delivered.

Dr Cotton agreed councillors should review the structure of the entity, which could involve moving the investment department back to the council.

After taking the helm of FCO in June 2015, Mr Bennett is pushing its future with councillors - but said he would return to his "many other business interests" after June 30.

Mr Bennett, investment attraction manager Donna Foster and Dr Cotton outlined FCO's achievements and the predicament it faces, at a meeting with the new councillors last week.

"We've got an urgency to ensure the board doesn't trade insolvently," Mr Bennett said.

"They (councillors) very solemnly took that on board and ensured they would provide a commonsense solution."

Tourism councillor Stuart Taylor called on his colleagues to continue funding FCO.

"They (FCO staff) have achieved a significant amount in sometimes adverse conditions," he said.

"I think to continue with its good work is imperative for the growth of tourism in this region. I don't think we need to re-invent FCO, we can tweak some things... ."

But Councillor Rolf Light said FCO's directors should have prepared a business plan in case funding was not renewed.

"You should have strategic plans in place to deal with that risk," he said.

"You're not acting correctly as a director if you hide your head in the sand.

"They were fully aware as a corporation that funding could possibly stop - it wasn't a secret."

Cr Light admitted "at this point in time I wouldn't support it (FCO) continuing".

In his campaign to become mayor Chris Loft pledged to disband FCO if he was successful.

Cr Loft did not respond to the Chronicle's request for comment yesterday.



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