Skills Plus deal saved Best Community Development from falling into insolvency

BEST Community Development was likely to fall into insolvency if it couldn’t be wound up under a deal with Frankston provider Skills Plus.

Best CD Members were expected to meet last night to wind up the co-operative, ending its 40 year history as an employment and disability service provider in Ballarat.

Under the initiative, several Ballarat jobs have been cut and services transferred to a new consolidated Skills Plus and BRACE entity – a partnership of Ballarat training organisation BRACE and Skills Plus.

The existing Job Services Australia contract expires in 2015.

BEST CD sold a major Dana Street property last year and had cash assets of $3,212,256 at the end of 2008.

But in a disclosure document distributed to members, and obtained by The Courier, the extent of the co-operative’s financial trouble has been revealed.

The organisation’s financial position deteriorated to the extent it could not reasonably continue, with the Job Services Australia contract being delivered at a loss.

Members were told the board carefully considered “all options for continuation of services provided”, from continuing as a single entity through to merger and winding up.

Winding up was preferred.

The Courier was unable to contact BEST chairman Erich Sinkis yesterday, but the company disclosure statement shows BEST CD was set to transfer $1,810,605 in total assets to Skills Plus, including $1,122,000 in real estate holdings.

In turn, Skills Plus takes on liabilities of $1,827,419.

The individual directors of the BEST board join the SkillsPlus board.

BEST CD and BRACE agreed to amalgamate in March 2012 in a bid to stem rising financial pressures.

Frankston-based Skills Plus later became involved in the running of the Ballarat organisations, as part of “a long-term partnership”.

By the end of 2013, a formal merger proposal was under “due diligence”, but did not come to fruition.

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