A deferred "unlawful" motion carried at Wednesday's Gunnedah Shire Council meeting means staff will now seek external legal advice to clarify the next steps.
It comes after Gunnedah Basketball Association's Rhonda Smith presented at the meeting to say the association was against a five-year negotiation of their premises at the showground, and against having to pay $542 for the licence fee.
Ms Smith, on behalf of the association, said they wanted a 10-year lease with the option of a further 10-years, and wanted the licence fee waived.
She said this was because they had brought a lot to the area since their inception, and never asked the council for funds; they have only fundraised, or sought funding from grants.
They also cited financial issues due to COVID-19 and upcoming maintenance costs as reasons for their request to waive the fee.
The discussion became heated when Cr Owen Hasler backed Ms Smith, and put forward a different motion to allow for the association's request, "with no licence fee applying until the completion of the loan repayment period in 2029, any subsequent licence fee being based on a figure of $542 per annum in 2021 plus GST".
However, general manager Eric Groth interjected and said "the council cannot accept a motion if it's unlawful".
The council's infrastructure services director, Jeremy Bartlett, confirmed that the duration of the proposed agreement was unlawful, and that the maximum period was five years.
Cr Hasler then said he wanted to have that clarified with a legal advisor.
"We have had this organisation and a very positive relationship in our community for 25 years and beyond and built a facility that was nearly $600,000 at the time," he said.
"Now it's insured for nearly $3 million and they've paid all of the expenses in maintaining and improving that facility."
He suggested the matter be deferred until after legal advice was sought, which was seconded by Cr Colleen Fuller.
It is uncertain where the funds would come from for this, at this stage.
If there isn't enough money in the public facilities fund the council will then look to general funds.
Mayor Jamie Chaffey said it was "left wide open" to how much would be spent.
The saga ended with Cr Hasler saying it was important to have the issue clarified.
"That figure is not going to be a significant amount, given the importance of the issue," he said.
The basketball stadium at the Gunnedah Showground was first built in 1995, with the deed of agreement negotiated numerous times over the years.
The council included in the November papers that other users of the showground all pay the fee.