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Final tally: $1m blow out for new library

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Chris Oldfield, Naracoorte Community News

The modern new Naracoorte library has a final cost to ratepayers of more than $3 million.

At the request of Cr Cameron Grundy, a recommendation to borrow $1 million to help cover the cost has been deferred until June 14.

During Naracoorte Lucindale Council’s May 24 meeting CEO Trevor Smart unveiled the $2.44 million end cost of consultants, construction, fixtures, fittings, furniture, art, signs and landscaping for the new library.

Not included in that tally for ratepayers was the purchase cost of the former Naracoorte Herald building at 93 Smith St, which council recorded in February 2020 to be $618,100.

Additionally, according to annual budget papers, a further $152,186 was allocated for rent from July 2016 until this year for the temporary library on Smith St.

This brings the final cost to just over $3.2m.

Despite a $2 million budget pledged to the community, and included in budget documents, the council gave the nod to an increased sum, as outlined in a five-page, detailed, written report by Mr Smart, which can be found in the council’s May agenda.

In a verbal report to the May meeting, Mr Smart said there had been a lot of unknowns with the project.

“We did a lot of preliminary work in trying to discover the issues with the (former Herald) building,” he said.

“But with an existing non-greenfield site, (we were) bound to find some issues, which we did.

“So, financially, I think we managed that project well. I think it’s come out a pretty good result on our tender and end position.

“We did include in our budget over a number of years $2 million for the project. 

“Council could have amended that at any given time once we had updated estimates.”

The council kept confidential its June 2021 pre-tender update estimate of $2,528,775 to transform the Herald building into a library. 

That amount for renovations was additional to the building purchase cost and rent for the temporary site on Smith St.

Mr Smart said the $2.52 million June estimate came after the council’s 2021 22 budget process.

“From a tendering perspective, I think it was a good idea to leave it (the budget) at $2 million,” he said.

“Then it doesn’t send a signal to the prospective tenderers what our updated costs could or would be.

“So, we always held the line, even in our tender documentations, that we had expectations that the project should be coming in at around $2 million.”

Mr Smart’s informative written report details itemised spending including $1949.54 spent on chopping down the 80 year old London Plane tree at the rear of the Town Hall.

Cr Grundy queried that cost of almost $2000. He recalled the council previously reported removing the tree was $8000.

Director infrastructure Daniel Willmore said it was “reported as $8000 to include the surrounding (area) and concrete path, which was an error on my behalf”.

Mayor Erika Vickery praised the project and said the council now had pedestrian areas which were well used, as well as a connection to the Town Hall.

Cr Ken Schultz commended everyone involved with the new library, describing it as “a fantastic job”.

Mr Smart referred to chamber discussions and council’s 2021 22 budget.

“We had forecast taking a loan out of $1 million to part fund the library project,” Mr Smart said.

“So, within my report, I’m still suggesting that we do take out a loan given some information in advance on our existing cash reserves.

“Our long-term financial plan currently suggests we are drawing down on our cash which was our intention. Has been for a couple of years. It is getting to a reasonably low, low level.

 “I’ll suggest we seriously consider taking the million dollars (as a loan).”

Mr Smart suggested it be a short-term variable loan which could be rolled over in the future, or paid off.

Cr Grundy, Mr Smart and Cr Dennis discussed various details regarding interest rate forecasts and loan facilities with variable and fixed rates.

Cr Grundy said instead of acting hastily, it could lie on the table until the next council meeting “when we (all) have a chance to digest terms and conditions that are being offered here tonight”.

Councillors agreed and the matter was deferred until June 14.

At a public meeting in October 2017, the community and several councillors rejected a $3.7 million rejuvenation of the old library in DeGaris Pl. The building urgently required a new roof and air-conditioning.

The council pledged a new library to cost no more than $2 million.

Naracoorte Community News 1 June 2022

This article appeared in the Naracoorte Community News.


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