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Go Slow on $50 million Sewer Repair Inquiry

Mar 4, 2024

The expensive and multi year saga of the Windsor “Rising Main C” sewer repair will be stretched out even further. No action has been taken by Hawkesbury City Council management on the appointment of outside experts to audit the disaster which has cost more than $30 million.

At the Nov. 2023 meeting of HCC, Council – in response to a Notice of Motion by Councillor Eddie Dogramaci – voted to appoint a suitably qualified probity investigator, auditor, lawyer or project manager to investigate and prepare a report on both the failure of Rising Main C and the procuring of the contract to repair, replace and reconstruct the Main.

The years’ long repair and associated works blew out from $2 million to over $30 million. First broken in January 2021, the sewer was not repaired until March 2023.

Cleaning the sewer system.

The magnitude of mis-management and costs forced HCC to take out a $32.5 million loan that now weighs down its books. A myriad of questions remain about how the cost escalated to such an extraordinary level have remained unanswered. The state government has given no indication that it will bail the council out of the loan and HCC was spurned in its initial approach to Macquarie St last year.

So far, HCC has paid out more than $1.5 million in interest fees on the loan, and if the loan remains HCC’s to pay back, it will end up costing ratepayers in the vicinity of $50 million.That is about 30% of its current annual budget. Aware already, sewerage rates were raised this financial year by a staggering 14% to help cover the loan’s costs.

The Hawkesbury Post has learned that no action has yet been taken by council in the past two months towards making known the costs of any such investigator appointment. It is also understood that it will be some months before quotes are received. HCC requested that management present them with costs before proceeding.

When queried on the state of play, a HCCGM Elizabeth Richardson confirmed that the issue was proceeding slowly blaming councillors’ insistence on seeing quotes for the review. She said that councillors would be shown quotes “in coming months”. This is likely to push the final report on the disaster into the next financial year, well beyond the September’s council elections.

In response to the motion passing, HCC noted that “the appointment of an investigator, auditor, lawyer or project manager would cost upwards of $30,000,” noting such expenditure was not in this year’s operational plan and would have to be included in a quarterly budget review.

 

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