Letter: Little picture, big picture

Thank you for publishing my "Open Letter to the Minister for Local Government" which I wrote in early April and which now appears online as well as in hardcopy in the Manning River Times of May 15, 2020.

I refer to your editorial note to my letter to the Minister in which you say, "MidCoast Council has stated the project will be completed under the original budget of $20 million" in an attempt to qualify my letter where I said that last year's community petition lodged with the NSW Parliament was against the Biripi Way office centralisation project "and particularly the cost of it estimated as $40 million in the long term".

The fact is, a council commissioned "Independent Cost Benefit Analysis" which was favourably considered at April 10, 2019 ordinary meeting of council, and which informed council approving the project to proceed, specified, at page 11 of the consultant's report, a total cost of $39,272,033 over a "20-year time horizon".

That is close enough to the $40 million alluded to in last year's petition and it is an amount that includes $19,777,853 for what are described as "Initial Capital Outlay Costs" made up of construction, fitout and the like (the relevant tables are at pages 8 and 11 of the report).

While the latest estimate by council, in its development application, reduces the development cost (for construction, fitout and the like) by about $4.5 million to $15,087,417, this does not reduce the tenor of the petition and particularly if it is noted that the big picture cost of over $39 million did not include the site purchase cost of $7 million.

Simply put, reducing 40 by 4.5 and then adding 7 does not equal less than 20.

Nawal Maharaj


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