Budget blowout: Council spends $1.5m more than planned

The South Dubbo Rock Weir and Ramp when it was under construction. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE
The South Dubbo Rock Weir and Ramp when it was under construction. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

Two projects by Dubbo Regional Council have gone considerably over their initial budgets, costing ratepayers an additional $1.5 million.

The Mitchel Highway roundabout costs came it at 31 per cent higher than planned. There was $2.94 million originally set aside for the roundabout but at the end of the work it’s expected to hit $3.85 million.

Meanwhile, the South Dubbo Rock Weir and Ramp was expected to cost $3.8 million, however the wet weather and changes to the plans blew the project out to almost $4.4 million.

Work on the weir was designed to improve public safety. Nine people have drowned at the weir since its construction in 1942.

The fishway was also designed to allow native fish to move both upstream and downstream.

But high rainfall – Dubbo recorded the sixth wettest winter across 145 years of records – created delays to the rock ramp and fishway construction, council’s general manager Mark Riley said.

“I’m not sure when the perfect time to build a rock weir is but it’s certainly not when you have the wettest winter in many, many years. That certainly had an impact on the amount of water coming down the river,” Mr Riley said.

Increase costs also came from unforeseen changes to the plans. There were also 16 variations during the construction, such as an extension to the weir as a result of bank erosion and the addition of safety fencing along the cycle track. Of the variations, nine were a result of the high level of water due to the rainfall and Burrendong Dam water releases.

Overall, the project was $586,000 – or 15.4 per cent – over the initial budget.

Wet weather also added to the cost of the Mitchell Highway roundabout. While the project isn’t completed, it’s expected to hit $3.85 million by the time it’s done – $910,000 more than expected.

At the end of the financial year $3.17 million had been spent on the roundabout.

Mr Riley said the largest unexpected expenditure came from the street lighting which was double the forecast price. Added costs also came from the need for a longer merge lane and the reinforcement of road paving foundation due to the wet weather.

Last month the highway was reopened to two lanes of traffic. At the time council said the project had been delayed due to the cold weather and contractor availability.