Dear Beagle Editor, All explained? Please!
In an open letter, I recently asked council to explain what appeared to be anomalies between costings in the annual financial statements for our existing three pool centres and figures being quoted for the capital and on-going costs that would be incurred if the 25 metre pool in the proposed Mackay Park development was extended to 50 metres. Council’s Director of Corporate and Commercial Services has responded and has pointed out where I had misread the financial statements – the repairs and maintenance should have totalled $290,000 (not $229,000) and that the full replacement cost for the three pool centres is $14,548,000 (not $5,134,000).
Any misconceptions created by my oversight are regretted - I hadn’t realised that the information was split between the categories of buildings, actual pools and plant and equipment. Perhaps I should have asked council staff first before going public because I don’t think our councillors were aware of the true figures either as none of those approached was able to answer the questions.
Even after correcting for the inaccuracy of the numbers quoted in my earlier letter, the questions about the apparent high cost of $6.5 million to add an extra 25 metres to a pool or why the extra pool would still cost more to operate than the maintenance costs of all three current centres remain unanswered. Consider these reasons –
Council’s $6.5 million figure is based on the assumption that the building size of the Mackay Park proposal – i.e. floor area, walls and roof - would have to be extended proportionally to accommodate a 50 metre pool and that the then bigger pool would have to be divided by a fibreglass bulkhead (why make two separate pools?). There is a sketch, prepared by a qualified professional, being circulated that shows, with a little re-jigging, very little impact on the building size is required ……….. and no bulkhead …….and room for spectators.
The three current pool centres contain in aggregate two 50 metre pools, one 25 metre pool and an assortment of smaller learn-to-swim, wading pools and the like. All of these have a total replacement cost of under $15 million so how would an extra 25 metres cost $6.5 even if all the above unnecessary features were added?
The replacement cost for all three pool centres at under $15 million in today’s dollars would provide the equivalent of two 50 metre pools, one 25 metre pool and an assortment of smaller wading/learn-to-swim pools. This sum is less than a third of the estimated Mackay Park project cost – does that mean some $30 million remains for the arts/cultural facilities? (The $46 million figure is Odium’s estimate and still doesn’t include depreciation or funding costs.)
As far as costing reviews are concerned, the aquatic bits aren’t on their own. There are a number of shortcomings in the Arts/Cultural area that also need to be addressed along with remedying the omission of a bar and commercial kitchen, club room and storage for the swimming club, long-distance bus interchange, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
Mr Constance was correct in instructing council to review their costings, eh? Let’s insist that when that complete review is done the figures are made public and that comments from the community will be sought and given due consideration under his watchful eye before being put out to competitive tender for final project estimates!.
Jeff de Jager