The future of the Millicent saleyards is hanging on the outcome of a council meeting next Tuesday, with the decision predicted to be "almost a split vote", according to Wattle Range Council chief executive officer Ben Gower.
The impending decision comes after five SafeWork notices were issued as part of an audit of the saleyards in July, all surrounding aging infrastructure that no longer comply with Australian health and safety standards.
Following the notices, multiple walkthroughs with relevant stakeholders were conducted, a series of additional issues were identified and collated in a report, which was put to council last month.
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Mr Gower said the council agreed to fund $180,000 of a substantially larger sum needed to address the notices and additional issues.
"We'll need just shy of $1-million in minimum infrastructure renewals to address those SafeWork Notices, but to bring the saleyards up to a competitive standard, we're going to need five to 10 times that amount," he said.
Mr Gower said a continuing trajectory of a declining throughput of cattle numbers was also a key factor weighing on the decision.
"From a business sense, you would have closed the saleyards years ago, but there is community interest, social elements, and all sort of things to weigh up," he said.
"Every one of our councillors is torn."
South East livestock agent John Chay said the community wanted a commitment from the council to keep the saleyards open and undertake upgrades as needed.
"The nuts and bolts of the saleyards are fine, it just needs bit of money thrown at it, which hasn't happened in the 26 years I've been here," he said.
"There are government grants and funding for this sort of thing, which Mount Gambier have capitalised on, but no applications have been submitted for our complex."
A decision on the saleyards' future needs to be made by December 7, when the WorkSafe notices expire and a council commitment to fund or not fund the infrastructure improvements needs to have been finalised.
A total of 10 council members will cast their vote at next Tuesday's meeting. The mayor will vote in the occurrence of the votes being split 50:50.
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