Council clarifies Moss Vale Aquatic Centre costings

23 May, 2012

Chairman of the indoor Aquatic Working group, Councillor Larry Whipper has today clarified comments regarding projected costings of the Moss Vale Aquatic Centre.

“The estimated cost to build the Moss Vale Aquatic Centre remains around $8 million dollars inclusive of all construction and project management costs,” he said. “And the Construction Manager will be under strict instruction to bring the project in or even under budget.”

“Council has always acknowledged that this project would be funded through loans and the sale of some Council assets with the remainder to be funded from Council’s Infrastructure Recovery Strategy.

“When interest costs are taken into account – estimated in the order of $5.8 million dollars – the final figure inclusive of interest repayments will amount to approximately $14 million dollars,” Councillor Whipper said. “However, these repayments have always been factored into the financial strategy and to suggest otherwise is misleading.”

“To re-use the car analogy, recommended retail prices are generally used to quote a vehicle’s cost when purchasing a car. Additional interest costs are not typically included in the purchase cost. I would argue that most buyers would be aware of this.

“Quoting construction only costs is standard building estimation practice in both the private and public sectors.”

“Publishing these figures in our annual budget is confirmation Council never shied away from this fact, and is evidence of our commitment to providing open and transparent financial reporting,” he added.

Councillor Whipper also explained the financial data used to calculate the profit figures for the facility’s proposed gymnasium.

“Independent data supplied to Council by a sports and leisure management consultant estimated that the proposed Aquatic Centre would attract approximately 80,000 visits per annum,” Councillor Whipper said. “This figure takes into account factors such as location, design and facilities offered.”

“The subsequent business plan recommended the inclusion of a 300 square metre gymnasium which would be capable of catering for up to 900 fitness members which has the potential to contribute an additional $500,000 per annum to the facility.”

“The gymnasium is a value added supplement to the pool and cannot be viewed in isolation,” he said. “The Aquatic Working group has always maintained that that this project will provide a real economic stimulus for both Moss Vale and the greater Shire.”

Councillor Whipper further explained the community consultation included in the project planning of the scheme.

“Council undertook a rigorous community engagement program over several months for this proposal. We held displays, forums, an open day and conducted surveys and interviews,” he said.

“We acknowledge the proposal always had the potential to be contentious, however the majority of the feedback we received was positive, and Council is now committed to progressing with the construction of the project as determined by the majority of my fellow councillors earlier in the year.”

In April the NSW Government’s Joint Regional Planning Panels (JRPP) deferred approval of Council’s Land Use Application (LUA) for the Aquatic Centre citing more information in regards to parking and hard infrastructure such as pathways.

“In considering the project, all members of the JRPP expressed strong support for the scheme,” Councillor Whipper said.

“Council and the Indoor Aquatic Centre Working Group are hopeful that once the additional information is provided a decision will be forthcoming in the coming weeks.

“In the meantime, background works will continue as per the schedule and pending approval, construction will begin immediately on the multi-million dollar facility,” Councillor Whipper added.

This decision by the JRPP to defer the approval was made after the LUA for the Indoor Aquatic Centre was independently assessed by Wollondilly Shire Council.

“All going according to plan, the long held dream of residents of this Shire for a covered swimming centre will finally be realised following decades of anticipation.”