Ratepayers are faced with picking up the bill for a $45,000 tender error for work at the Whyalla Leisure Centre.
The cost of hall exhaust fans was mistakenly omitted from the tender submission by the contractor and resulted in a series of questions being asked at the latest Whyalla City Council meeting. It emerged during debate that a council officer, now no longer with the municipality, had agreed to overlook the error.
Council’s acting chief executive officer, Migelle Hiscock, said that under usual circumstances, the council would seek recompense, but was hampered by the absence of the officer in question. She said the approval for the cost over-run had been given by an “agent of this council”.
Cr Rick Santucci said it had been a “huge mistake” and “unfortunately” the council officer was no longer here.
Cr Colin Carter, who sparked the debate with his series of questions, suggested the council spend up to $5000 for legal advice on the matter. “If it was affirmative, we are $40,000 in front,” he said.
Cr David Knox blamed the situation on “human error”.
“The horse has bolted ... let’s learn from it,” he said.
Deputy Mayor Cr Tom Antonio said it was “grossly wrong” to pick up the tab, adding: “We should not be paying $45,000 of ratepayers’ money for someone else’s mistake.” Cr Tim Breuer said it was a “stuff-up”, but “there is nothing we can do … we have an obligation to pay it”. “We have got our hands tied,” he said.The council had suspended meeting procedure to enable a 10-minute discussion of the matter.
This resulted from a division in which Cr Carter, Cr Knox, Cr Antonio, Cr Clare McLaughlin, Cr Robert Schmitz and Cr Rick Santucci voted in favour and Cr Breuer and Cr Jenny Barnes against.
Cr Carter said he had the plans for the project and the fans were clearly part of the submission.
He said the firm involved, McMahon Contractors, was an international company.
Cr Antonio said earlier discussions of the project had been in “good faith”.