Benaraby Waste Landfill.

Photo David Sparkes / The Observer
Benaraby Waste Landfill. Photo David Sparkes / The Observer David Sparkes

BUDGET SURPRISE: Millions to be added to long-term plan

TOUGH decisions will need to be made to afford adding millions of dollars to the Gladstone Regional Council's long-term financial plan to afford unexpected project blowouts.

Half a million dollars will be added to this year's budget to complete a road upgrade at Agnes Water, after it was found the work would cost double the estimated $450,000.

Meanwhile, an extra $5.1million will be added to annual budgets for the next four years to complete upgrades at the Benaraby Landfill.

The decisions were made at yesterday's council meeting.

Chief executive officer Leisa Dowling said the council would review the budget and long-term plan to include the increased project costs.

"Some hard decisions will need to be made; we have to sift thorough essential and desirable infrastructure," she said.

Cr Kahn Goodluck said the council should be more prepared in the future and have more accurate estimates of project costs.

"I know we've gone through a huge restructure and we're working to change that... but it's frustrating," Cr Goodluck said.

Acting mayor Chris Trevor said the council's restructure this year addressed these issues with a dedicated asset management team formed to focus on identifying cost and assessing the long-term plan.

Among the financial surprises was the revised plans for the Benaraby Landfill Cell 3A project, which in 2016 was estimated to cost $5.3million.

With the current cell, Cell 2, expected to be filled with the region's waste by October 2021, funding for the construction of the new cell needed to be brought forward.

Revised plans found the project would cost $9.7million over four years, because the original estimate did not include funding for design plans and operational work.

Yesterday council officers recommended adding $50,000 to the 2018-19 budget, $1.2million in 2019-20, $6.7million in 2020-21 and $1.7million in 2021-22.

Cr Peter Masters moved that they adopt the new budget, citing the landfill as critical infrastructure.

Chief financial officer Mark Holmes said the revised costs would likely increase the landfill gate charges by $3.

Concerns about the long-term budget were also raised after an investigation into the upgrade of Bicentennial Dr at Agnes Water found the work would cost $953,000, $453,000 more than what was originally anticipated.

With concerns putting off the road upgrade would cause it to further deteriorate, the councillors decided to increase the budget to deliver the project in full. Weighing on councillors' minds was the $200,000 State Government grant committed to the road upgrade, which becomes void if work is not completed within the agreed timeframe.