Work is progressing on the Ballina Memorial Pool upgrade.
Work is progressing on the Ballina Memorial Pool upgrade. Ballina Shire Council

Pool upgrade costs blow out by up to $800,000

BALLINA Shire Council will launch a claim against a contractor as the cost of its pool upgrades blow out substantially.

Unexpected substation work-related and asbestos removal costs could see the total cost increase by as much as $800,000.

At this month's Finance Committee meeting, councillors moved to claim some costs back from Ridgemill Pty Ltd, the company which failed to include power augmentation costs in an initial quote for the upgrade to the Ballina and Alstonville public pools.

The council previously approved a $320,000 spend on power substation works, but this work is now expected to cost $780,000.

In the report, staff said the council has been "criticised in respect to the delay of the substations" and noted a "legal opinion has been sought".

"It is important to acknowledge that council does not have electrical engineers on staff and there is a reliance on specialist consultants to assist in these projects," the report said.

"Council staff need to follow up on any expert advice provided however a legal opinion has been sought from Maddocks Solicitors in respect to council lodging a claim to recover some of the additional costs incurred from Ridgemill Pty Ltd, being the consultant responsible for the initial concept designs."

Meanwhile, a the council was undergoing a contractual dispute with Woollam Constructions, in regards to the cost of asbestos removal.

According the a council report, previously unforeseen asbestos removal could cost between $50,000 and $350,000.

The council's general manager Paul Hickey said they would dispute the full cost of asbestos removal.

Mr Hickey said the council would only try to claim a portion of the substation costs from Ridgemill.

"The initial advice was that (the power augmentation) wasn't needed," Mr Hickey said.

"We're not claiming the total cost of power augmentation."

Mr Hickey said while they had lost 33 days to poor weather and 22 to asbestos-related delays, the pools were both on track to open late July or early August.

In the finance meeting, councillors voted 5-2 in favour of six recommendations, which also included a move to allow Mr Hickey to seek a new loan of up to $800,000 to cover the shortfall.

Mayor David Wright and Crs Philip Meehan, Stephen McCarthy, Sharon Cadwallader and Ben Smith supported the recommendations, while Crs Nathan Willis and Keith Williams voted against them.

Crs Sharon Parry, Cr Jeff Johnson and Cr Eoin Johnston were absent from the vote.

Ridgemill Pty Ltd and Woollam Constructions have been approached for comment.

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