Cultural Centre’s contract delayed

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times

Questions marks hang over the timetable for redevelopment of Margaret River’s Cultural Centre after no tenders came in under the project’s $9.2 million budget.

A decision on the multimillion-dollar contract was delayed following last week’s Shire of Augusta-Margaret River council meeting, with members backing chief executive Gary Evershed to negotiate variations with the two leading tenderers.

Last week’s decision was expected to green-light construction starting next month, but councillors moved a revised recommendation during confidential business, with work rescheduled from April to May. The Shire did not respond to questions about how the construction timetable would be affected, with an Autumn Lights celebration slated for next weekend and Arts Margaret River moving to the Community Resource Centre until the major project is finished.

BGC, one of Australia’s biggest building firms, and Bunbury-based Perkins Builders, are the frontrunners for the lucrative job, with five other companies to be thanked for their out-bid tenders.

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“We are working to a budget of $9.2 million and will be in negotiations with BGC to deliver the project at that figure or close to it,” Mr Evershed said.

Last month, Cowaramup businessman Daniel Kozyrski asked questions about the Cultural Centre costs on behalf of residents concerned at changes to budgets around council projects.

A costs breakdown showed $6.75 million came from external grant funding, borrowings of $1.3 million of which $1.1 million would be covered by developer contributions, and ratepayer money of about $1.112 million.

At the last meeting of 2017, a majority of councillors voiced disquiet about creeping ratepayer contributions to major projects and urged restraint.

The council was told an extra $650,000 was added to the Cultural Centre redevelopment, while also approving an extra $179,000 for the youth precinct development, and noting another $426,000 was needed to help deliver a new sporting ground in Rapids Landing.

In response to queries, Shire corporate services manager Andrew Ross said the closing balance of developer contributions for the 2016-17 financial year was $753,453, with about $180,000 more collected this year, boosted by greater than anticipated releases of new land.

“Overall, it is expected developer contributions collected will be sufficient to fund the district and local projects specified in the developer contributions plan,” he said.

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