Budget blowout to rebalance

Macedon Ranges Council identified $200,000 in unspent contingencies will be returned to the budget.

Zoe Moffatt

Macedon Ranges council has cut capital works projects to balance its $344,870 budget deficit, following a cost blowout.

In a meeting on Wednesday, April 26, council addressed the increasing costs and recommended amendments to the budget for the current works to be completed.

Acting assets and operation director Simon Finlay said officers are confident the deficit can be balanced through the return of unspent contingencies.

“Officers are confident that this shortfall can be carried within the programme as a low risk due to the number of projects due for completion this quarter,” Mr Finlay said.

“Identified unspent contingencies in the order of $200,000 will be returned … along with further savings identified between now … [and the] May scheduled council meeting.

“The unspent contingencies of these projects will rebalance the budget.”

Projects that required increases to their budget include Gisborne Bowling Club synthetic rink, ($81,362 increase), Woodend Playgroup ($5950 increase) and Gardiner Reserve carpark and landscaping ($2907 increase).

Projects that have been completed and returned a savings, include Woodend Neighbourhood House (saving of $5950), Riddells Creek Montessori Kindergarten ($9028) MP Theatre roof design ($7324) and Woodend Bowling Club Social Room Design, ($11,270).

Additional projects with budget allocation include Mulbarton Rockwall, Gisborne ($30,000), Gisborne Aquatic Centre electric Boiler ($80,000), Kyneton Sports and Aquatic Centre gas boilers ($138,000).

Two projects have been cancelled: Drainage Fersfield Road, Gisborne, with $18,417 returned to the developer contribution fund, and the Kyneton Sports and Aquatic Centre Electric Boiler Design with $80,000 returned to the consolidated capital works budget.

Council said there were significant price increases in building material and labour for the 2021-22 financial year.

Due to the budget build process beginning in October of the previous year, council said pricing is often outdated, with some projects tendered over 12 months after estimates are set.

Council said officers allow reasonable cost escalation on projects, however these increases were outside this estimate, and it is not sustainable for the budget to cover these unexpected costs.