Another hip pocket hit
by UTE SCHULENBERG
COMMUNITY anger is mounting in the Bellingen Shire at council decisions hitting hip pockets but not fixing potholes.
For Darcey Browning and many others the 5.9 per cent special rate variation being proposed to fund a $3 million upgrade of the council's work depot in Raleigh is particularly galling.
"Twenty months ago the council's annual report for 2005/2006 showed the depot to be in average condition, requiring $10,000 to bring it up to a satisfactory standard," the long-time Thora resident said.
"Now we are being told it will cost $3 million and all we are getting for that is a storeroom, a staff amenities building and a demountable!
"And $60,000 has been spent on consultants to get this information it's ridiculous."
Boggy Creek resident Willy Millard wondered why the views of the council's works engineer, plant procurement manager and four works supervisors who all have desks at the depot weren't good enough.
"These people build our roads and bridges but they haven't been able to maintain their own building," Mr Millard said.
"In fact, at the open day (March 8) the grass was waist high what had the council yardman been doing?"
Mr Millard said he was amazed to be shown the poor state of the electrical wiring.
He was also highly critical of the council's preliminary estimate for the project.
"According to quotes for sheds I found, the three new buildings would cost the council about $263,500 not the $1.1 million estimated by the consultants," he said.
"Adopting such a cheaper option would also save the council the $943,500 added under 'margins and adjustments'."
"It seems we have a very expensive solution to a relatively simple problem."
Mr Browning was also highly critical of the public information session he attended on March 10.
"The meeting was a sham all the time was taken up with information and there was little left for questions.
"Luckily there were only 10 people there what would have happened if 50 people had turned up?
"There is no question the depot needs a good makeover but this price just blows us away.
"At the meeting the general manager said maintaining our roads would not be possible without a huge injection of capital funds how can they justify spending $3 million on the depot?
"I think they have their priorities back-to-front."