Orange Ratepayers Association put council projects under the microscope

PROJECT PAIN: Orange Ratepayers Association president Colin Young at Wade Park, where work was delayed in 2011 after consultants underestimated the amount of soil needed.
Photo: DANIELLE CETINSKI

PROJECT PAIN: Orange Ratepayers Association president Colin Young at Wade Park, where work was delayed in 2011 after consultants underestimated the amount of soil needed. Photo: DANIELLE CETINSKI

ORANGE City Council’s ability to manage projects on time and on budget has been placed under ratepayer scrutiny.

The Orange Ratepayers Association wrote to the Central Western Daily earlier in the week, questioning the council’s record on “a series of unfortunate infrastructure projects, the costs, management and overall quality”.

The association cited remedial works at the Northern Distributor Road and Orange Aquatic Centre, a 4500 cubic-metre underestimation of the amount of soil needed for the resurfacing of Wade Park and a need for better financial checks on potential contractors after Hewatt Earthworks was unable to complete Orange Airport’s roads and runway.

President Colin Young said the ORA was concerned the council was wasting ratepayers’ time and money.

“I think they are over-optimistic on their costings,” he said.

“I guess it’s a matter of the staff paying close attention to the management of their projects - the only way they can manage them is by keeping on top of those issues.”

He was concerned the record could extend to the Macquarie pipeline, saying the council and Leed Engineering and Construction had yet to decide where to connect the pipe to the Macquarie River.

“It should be done right at the very start of the process,” he said.

“If there are changes to the contract, who is going to pay for those alterations?”

However, council spokesman Allan Reeder said the council dealt with managing multimillion-dollar projects regularly and pointed out the Anzac Park indoor sports stadium, Western Care Lodge’s first stage, the stormwater harvesting scheme, the new RFS headquarters and the Spring Creek Dam upgrade all finished on time and on budget.

“Because of the scale of these real-world projects there are always uncertainties, but the council has a very good record of delivering value for money,” he said.

However, Mr Reeder said the council continued to learn from experience, with the aquatic centre outcome prompting the council to add a clause to the airport contract allowing cancellation of the agreement if the contractor defaulted.

danielle.cetinski@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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