The future of the long-awaited Bega Sports Complex is unknown as council grapples with rising costs, while at the same time hoping for salvation in the form of a federal grant.
Equally the scope of the project cannot be changed because of the risk to grant funding already received.
And this is all before a contract has even been awarded.
Council staff recommended negotiating with tenderers and also committing council to paying up to 50 per cent of the final total project costs, using money from parks, recreation and aquatic funding.
Council currently has $11.75million in funding, of which $11.7million is from the NSW Office of Sport.
The money was awarded in a celebrated announcement in February 2019, by the then Member for Bega Andrew Constance to the tune of $8.5million for the Bega Sports Hub and $4m for Pambula Sports Hub.
However in May 2022 council transferred the money from Pambula to Bega after cost blowouts, in order to allow at least one project to move ahead.
At that stage the cost of the Bega complex was quoted as costing $11.8million. The current figure is contained in a confidential document to councillors.
But in the words of Cr David Porter: "It's enough money to make the hair stand up on anyone's neck."
Councillors were divided over the next moves but Cr Mitchell Nadin proposed an alternative motion which allows staff to enter into negotiations with the top three tenderers to see what, if any, savings can be made and also pursuing the funding options.
Council currently has a funding application for an additional $4.8million.
Cr Nadin's motion which was agreed in a tight 5-4 vote will mean the matter will come back to council in either December or January.
"At the moment there is no confirmed budget and so by going with the staff recommendation we would be writing a blank cheque for an undefined amount of money," he said.
"This allows discussion to finalise the price and details. Ideally we need certainty on the (additional) grant funding so we know how much we need to provide," Cr Nadin said.
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"I believe the staff recommendation is too ambiguous, with a budget of $11.5million there's not a hope," Cr Nadin told the council meeting on November 15.
Cr Porter said while it was an important project, they couldn't raise rates by the largest amount ever and then a few months later say they needed to put their hands in the ratepayer's pockets again
1. That council note all tenders are above the currently adopted budgeted.
2.. That Council continues to pursue additional external funding options to reduce the amount of Council funding required to deliver the project.
3. That Council decline to accept the submitted tenders under Clause 178 of the Local Government (General) Regulation 2005 and enter into negotiations with the top three tenderers to find sufficient savings to ensure the project can be delivered, with a view to entering into a contract for construction works.
4. That a further report be brought back to council following negotiations.
5. That all tenderers are advised of this decision.
It was moved by Cr Nadin and seconded by Cr Porter
For: Nadin, Porter, Griff, Robin, Wright
Against: Fitzpatrick, Allen, O'Neil, Seckold.
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