Turning over Warrnambool's ageing saleyards to private ownership has been mooted as an alternative to closure or major ratepayer-funded upgrades.
RegionaliQ consultant Michael Gobel, who oversaw the privatisation of the state's largest saleyards, said selling off the yards business was an option Warrnambool council should consider.
"I would be advocating that it's worth going down that route to see what appetite there might be," Mr Gobel said.
"Council might rightfully conclude that spending $5 million might not be the best use of ratepayers' money.... but there's a broader social and economic benefit of having the yards in that municipality.
"Maybe it's worth exploring an opportunity for private ownership."
But Warrnambool Stock Agents Association president Jack Kelly said it would be tough to get a private operator to take it over because the council hadn't put enough money into the yard over the past 15 to 20 years.
In his fight to save the saleyards from possible closure, Mr Kelly is urging people to go to the council's Have Your Say page on its website with the deadline to participate in the survey closing on August 26.
He said Wodonga and Ballarat privatised their saleyards but they were relocated to new facilities very close to the city.
However, he said council-run yards were better because prices were more consistent.
Mr Kelly said the biggest saleyards in Australia was Roma in Queensland and it was council-run.
Stock agents are set to meet with the council next week about the saleyards.
Mr Gobel said Warrnambool saleyards still enjoyed a good "critical mass" of throughput. Last year it had about 62,000, but Mr Kelly said it would be more if they had the right facilities.
"The throughput at Warrnambool is significant. It's a decent number. Wodonga's 200,000. There's a galaxy between Wodonga and the next one in terms of throughput," Mr Gobel said.
"It's not going to be an easy deliberation of the council. It is a significant asset.
"Yes it comes with a capital requirement, but maybe there is another opportunity and maybe that's a divestment rather than a closure."
Mr Gobel said he was really surprised that the option of selling it has not been given more consideration.
"To me this is not a close or an invest scenario. There is another option and maybe it's a divestment option," he said.
Faced with a study that found it could cost $8 million to upgrade its saleyards, Wodonga councillors decided in 2008 to sell and move the yards to the other side of town but it was a controversial decision.
Mr Gobel, a former CEO of Wodonga council, said even though councillors had decided to close the saleyards which were in a residential growth corridor, they had a successful plan to transition.
He said the council was very keen to maintain the economic and social benefits of the saleyards by having it remain in Wodonga but they didn't want to have to folk out $8 million to do it.
Just how much the private company paid for the saleyards is subject to commercial in confidence, but he said they "paid a fair price for it".
The agreement meant leasing the saleyards until the new yards were built in 2014 on land purchased off the council that had been optioned up for $4 million.
The old council-owned site was auctioned off in two lots, as is, for $3.32 million in 2018 and 2021.
Mr Gobel said the decision was made to "future proof" the saleyards - which were in a residential growth corridor - and put them where they wouldn't have to be moved again.
He said he had consulted for other local governments who had wrestled with similar saleyards issues.
Mr Gobel said there were still some successful council-run facilities such as Hamilton.
"I think it depends a lot on the ability of local government to be able to properly resource these businesses with capital and expertise," he said.
Ballarat's saleyards moved to Miners Rest in 2018 but there has been slow progress on the old site with technical studies of the contamination proving more complicated than anticipated, and heritage issues affecting plans.
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