Budget sign off

The next stage of Wattle Range Council’s proposed new office has been given the green light – at a revised cost of $9.2m.

Councillors on Tuesday night voted to authorise Chapman Herbert Architects to proceed to the “detailed documentation phase” of the Council Service Centre project.

As a result, two informal public meetings have been earmarked to be held on July 19 and 26.

Chief executive Ben Gower said there were two more key decisions to come.

“The last detail design phase will get all the engineering design phase drawn up with documentation ready to go to tender,” he said.

“The current budget allocation we have in place for the design work is around $480,000 from concept to tender process.

“We are tracking to achieve that within budget.”

“We are not anticipating to come back and ask for more money for the design element.

“That will take at least four months for the architects which will put us post-election.

“So the new council will make the next decision in the decision-making process.

“We have had to be fairly hard and lean but try and leave some outdoor courtyard, left door openings in place so we can refit the outdoor element later if we want.”

Meanwhile, Mr Gower said the information sessions would be an opportunity to talk about all aspects of the design and provide answers to questions.

He said a meeting would definitely be held in Millicent while the second venue would be in another township within the council area, which was yet to be determined.

Cr Dean Burrow said he “strongly opposed the current location” and voted against it based on his views of the visual impact and carparking availability, while Cr Peter Dunnicliff was an apology from the meeting.

“We are trying to build something for purpose, comfort and longevity.

“I’m disappointed council has not done something more adventurous,” Cr Burrow said.

Cr Dale Price voted in favour, saying council had taken into consideration ratepayers and council staff.

“We have a balance of wishes of ratepayers, it’s time we did something about proceeding,” he said.

“What we have done is create a balance looking after financial concerns of ratepayers and the needs of staff.

“We will be quite proud.”

Mayor Des Noll thanked elected members for their “strong and decisive decision”.

The project is forecast to commence building in November 2023.

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