A cost blowout of $4.5million has hit plans for major redevelopment in Bega and Pambula, forcing Bega Valley Shire Council to reconsider delivering both projects.
At this week's council meeting, May 18, councillors voted to submit a variation request to the NSW Office of Sport that the total funding commitment be redirected to the Bega project, with further funding applications to continue be made for Pambula.
Mayor Russell Fitzpatrick said planning for the Pambula sportsground began in 2007 when he sat as chairman of the Pambula Sporting Complex. It was that year the committee agreed to begin planning the masterplan and have a proposal of where to seek out grant funding for each area of the hub.
New sports hubs for Bega and Pambula have both been on the drawing board for some time, with the masterplans initially endorsed in 2016.
Then in a celebrated announcement in February 2019, state government funding for the projects was committed 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.
Due to escalation in construction costs and inflation since that announcement, BVSC estimated a significant funding shortfall for the projects.
In February this year councillors met to discuss funding challenges of the Bega project in particular and how a redesign was looking at options to reduce the overall cost.
Despite the design review reducing the approximate cost of the redevelopment by $1.4million, the total project estimate was still some $3million over the available $8.5m budget.
Council staff reported it was also expected there would be a funding shortfall "in the order of $1.5million" for the Pambula project if all works originally included in the scope were to be funded.
Mayor Russell Fitzpatrick said he was advised by the Minister for Tourism and Sport Stuart Ayers, to apply to have the funding redirected into the Bega facility because it was the bigger regional complex.
However, he said the decision was not made lightly.
The mayor was visibly upset during the council meeting on Wednesday, and acknowledged the shire needed a complex in Bega, but said it "did not sit well with him" because he preferred to work for the interests of the whole community.
"I acknowledge that the Bega sporting complex is our prime one for our shire, that's where the NRL games will be playing and everything else like that.
"But the only way we can do that with the costing is to transfer the money from Pambula and have our funding deed amended to put all the money into Bega because it's an $11.8 million cost," he said.
It would now be left to council to try to find funding solutions for the Pambula hub.
Cr Fitzpatrick said with council's current financial position, it was "highly unlikely" council could borrow the money needed for Pambula.
"I'm a realist and I see it as unlikely to go ahead in its current form unless I can get some government funding, and we've put in for grants for the whole amount and we will sit and wait for those.
"But it leaves the Pambula community, and community at whole wondering whether it will ever happen," he said.
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