Letter | Over-spend is a concern and leaves questions unanswered

THE latest news about O'Connell and Black Springs water bores published October 11 are utmost concerning.

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Oberon Council staff found several "explanations" after the horse had bolted, spending an additional $101,095 on top of the approved $161,000. The council now forecasts a further $80,000 will be required to finish the bores project. That's not all - on-cost have not even been allocated and committed cost have not been considered.

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Total over-expenditure is 112 per cent and it seems on-cost were not allocated, meaning staff worked for free? You bet not; cost recovery of staff as well as plant and equipment will be paid by someone. Ratepayers have deep pockets, it seems. Take the money from somewhere else?

Adding insult to injury, council only realised at the end that security cages will be required to prevent theft and vandalism - a totally new and unexpected feature never known at the start of the project.

Council now proposes to recover part of the over-expenditure ($130k) from section 94 emergency services contributions and a further $52k from "works construction", all with approval by council's finance department, which has confirmed that allocation from these internally restricted reserves is acceptable and appropriate given the activities that they are covering.

The latest developments must raise more than a few eyebrows? Spending public funds seems out of control.

Overspending $181,000 on two bores is not the only disaster. The O'Connell pedestrian bridge/footpath was overspent by $29,575 and the Town Improvement Fund has not been reconciled in 10 years, suddenly showing only $85,000 is available.

The council declared on page 86: "It was expected that this figure would be close to around $700k, however the review has identified projects that were completed using Town Improvement Funds that were not budgeted for during the 2015-2019 period."

All councillors have a duty to ensure due diligence in governance is applied to all council activities. Project management and cost control are council activities.

I hope our councillors start representing this community on matters of importance.

Hardy Draheim