Geoff Helisma |
The cost of completing the work currently underway at the Romiaka Channel Bridge has been partially revealed in this week’s Clarence Valley Council (CVC) meeting papers: $589,878, the works report states.
The August works report states that “works have recommenced at site” and that the ‘Project Risk Status’ has “reduced … with works now recommenced”.
The Australian and NSW governments each contributed $1.73million towards the estimated $3,901,736 project, including a 10 per cent contingency of $293,844; CVC contributed the balance, $439,736.
The council has been in a long-running dispute with the bridge builder, Delany Civil; however any details have been discussed by councillors in confidential sessions.
At the July CVC meeting, Cr Karen Toms pressured general manager Ashley Lindsay to reveal the cost blowout.
At the meeting, Mr Lindsay said, “If that’s what council wants, we [staff] will provide it”.
He later told the Independentin an emailed response that a “report will be presented to Council once the matter has been finalised, which will show the final project cost”.
He said there had not been any court battles with the contractor and that Delaney Civil is the contractor completing the works.
Ascertaining the total expenditure for the ‘$3,901,736 project’ cannot be found in the current CVC works report, which states that “budget implications [have] previously [been] reported to council”, presumably in a confidential session.
The July works report stated that $3,699,825 had been expended; with the following explanations: “new bridge is open to traffic but there are a number of project items to be completed to complete the contract; there are a number of contractual issues with the project that are yet to be resolved; and, there are potential cost implications for the project related to the contractual issues. Council is continuing to meet with the contractor and Public Works to attempt to resolve the issues.”
The Independent also asked Mr Lindsay why the Local Government Act regulation – ‘The report contains information that would, if disclosed, confer a commercial advantage on a person with whom the council is conducting (or proposes to conduct) business,’ – was relevant at the July CVC meeting.
Independent: ‘Please explain, assuming Delany Civil was the only contractor involved in negotiations, how the [above cited] part of the local government act would apply – in other words, how could Delany Civil have had a commercial advantage conferred upon it by making the decision public?’
Ashley Lindsay: “The issue is that Council provided delegated authority to the General Manager to negotiate with Delaney Civil.
“If the details of the terms were made public Delaney Civil would have been provided a commercial advantage prior to these negotiations being held.”