Funding shortfall for Merimbula basketball courts

Basketball and netball players with member for Bega Andrew Constance at the time of the funding announcement in 2019.
Basketball and netball players with member for Bega Andrew Constance at the time of the funding announcement in 2019.

Council will ask member for Bega Andrew Constance for more money for the Merimbula basketball and netball courts after negotiations with the lowest tenderer failed to bring the project cost within budget.

Following lobbying by the basketball and netball groups, in February 2019 Mr Constance announced $1m for the upgrade. The priority items were identified as resurfacing of the courts and installation of a roof structure that would provide an all-weather facility.

Companies were invited to tender for the work but none were within budget and on June 24 the general manager Leanne Barnes was given authority to negotiate with tenderers.

While there has been improvement in pricing through the negotiation process with a saving of $180,000, the cost remains $200,000 over the budget.

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During discussion at the council meeting council's director assets and operations Anthony McMahon said that the tenderer would probably not hold his prices for more than 60 days.

Cr Robyn Bain proposed that council enter into discussions with Mr Constance to see if he could "find the $200,000 shortfall, and seek to get that clarification within 30 days".

If the extra money was not available Cr Bain said the tender should be declined and the $1m funding returned.

Mr McMahon was asked about how council might be able to provide the extra money if none was forthcoming elsewhere. He said cash would have to be taken out of the budget meaning that planned works in the budget would have to be deferred.

He suggested that planned expenditure for this financial year, on council toilet blocks, could be deferred until next year and the money used for the shortfall.

But Cr Bain said that was just kicking the can further down the road.

"We have to stick to our operational plan. We are in a hole, we are cash poor. The only way we can afford this is if Andrew Constance is able to come up with the money. We have to stick to the plan to get ourselves out of the hole. I know Andrew Constance is quite concerned about our financial position. We have to accept responsibility and work with the operational plan. We need to steer our course at least for the next 12 months. People get it that if there's no money, we can't spend it," Cr Bain said.

But Cr Kristy McBain said she wanted to see the project go ahead irrespective of from where the money came.

"I have played on these courts for 26 years and in that time there has been one upgrade, they're not fit for purpose. There is a shortfall amount and we need to go back to the state member. If no extra money is available we need to get on with the project. If we need to put back the amenities, we can do those another year. I am really keen to see this project proceed," Cr McBain said.

Cr Bain's motion was lost with Crs Bain, Allen, Seckold and Dodds voting for and Crs Tapscott, Fitzpatrick, McBain and Nadin voting against.

Council then voted on Cr McBain's foreshadowed motion which included asking Mr Constance for the extra money, but going ahead anyway using council funds if money wasn't available from the state government.

The motion was carried with Cr Bain voting against.

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