Cr Townley responds to Open Letter on CCS

Yesterday, Thursday 18 February, our partners at the Coffs Coast Independent News (CCIN) Facebook site published an open letter to all Coffs Harbour Councillors on the cost of the new Civic and Cultural Centre in Gordon Street.

CCO had some input into the questions asked in the open letter.

The first response is from Cr Sally Townley. (pictured above).

Immediately below we publish the open letter and the questions therein and below that we publish Cr Townley’s response made via the CCIN and Citizen’s Voice Facebook sites,

Cr Townley’s response

“Hi all, forgive the brevity of my answers. Happy to discuss further, prefer by phone or email but will check in here from time to time too.

The contract will come to the next Council meeting (likely) keep an eye out today for the agenda.

Q1 Building costs have certainly risen since the cost estimates were derived and lots of details are now more known than they were then. Personally, I think if the cost over-run is more than 10%, (for the build contract) for me that would be a trigger.

Q2 As above, the contract for assessment at next meeting is ‘design and build for a fixed price’. I think about 80% of the design is finalised, about 20% will be at the builder’s discretion (in conjunction with project team).

Q3 Council has been offered loan by T Corp less than 2% with rate fixed for 20 years (a 30 year loan). Or can seek from bank. Current loan liabilities are around $8M per year costs (interest). As Council pays down its current loan liabilities (around $230M), loan costs will reduce from these other major loans (finished sometime after 2030 I think?).

So to borrow the money (as is usual procedure for large infrastructure projects) will see an increase in TOTAL liability for about three years, then reducing as other infrastructure loans are paid down and ultimately paid out. Hope that makes sense, happy to chat further, off to work now.

Thanks for the questions. Keep them coming, I will do my best to answer (may take a few days sometimes!).”

2 thoughts on “Cr Townley responds to Open Letter on CCS

  1. I have posted the following questions to Sally on two local social media sites;

    “Hi Sally, Many thanks for your reply. It is always appreciated when a Councillor responds in public as you have.

    There are a couple of things in your response though that I find intriguing. So if it is possible some clarification would be brilliant as I may well have “the wrong end of the stick” here.
    I refer primarily to your answer to Q3 wherein you state; “Council has been offered loan by T Corp less than 2% with rate fixed for 20 years (a 30 year loan).”

    My current understanding is that TCorp will only loan for cultural or similar LGA activities. Does the TCorp loan apply only to the library and art gallery component of the proposed CCS? Or does the loan apply to the building as a whole?
    If it only applies to the library/rt gallery component how would this be enforced given we are essentially talking about one building? In other words how can it be guaranteed TCorp monies are not used for the new ‘Civic Centre’; part of the building?

    When you say TCorp “offered a loan” was this unsolicited by council or did Council ask for the loan? If it is the latter have Councillors seen the correspondence in regards to this and/or any other written requirements set by TCorp that the CHCC must follow in regards to the loan?”

  2. “Councillor Sally Townley, in her responses to the questions posed to all Councillors, seems to have forgotten, that in a reply to a post on this site, you stated ” If the Cultural and Civic Space cost was above $76.5 million and was not a fixed price contract, then I will not support it”.

    Sally, if Coffs Harbour is going to believe in you and trust you, you have to do what you say you are going to do.

    The replies that you have given to the questions asked, clearly indicate that you are out of your depth, when faced with making a decision based on the level of commitment that this project requires.

    Your use of the word ” trigger” is a nonsense. Once a building contract is signed, you can’t then stick your hand up and request the contract be torn up.

    I have never, ever heard of a building contract being based on 80% of the known costs, with the builder being sanctioned to decide on the remaining 20% of costs ” At their discretion” . Design and construc never used to be a fixed price contract, how could it be when the builder is engaged to design, as well as construct?

    Please forgive me, but I have never seen the names of the other builders who were asked to tender on this project.

    If there has not been a tender and those responsible are committing the Coffs Harbour community to an unknown end result, that is most certainly, by admission by Councillor Sally – costs have gone up -Townley, going to far exceed $100 million, then those in favour of this project, need to be legally prevented from signing Coffs Harbour into the depths of debt.”

    The above was posted by Rodger on the Coffs Coast independent news Facebook site at 12.30 p.m. Friday 18 February. Published here with CCIN’s permission.

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