REPORT CARD: Did super-depot save us money?
THEY said they’d never build it, but many councillors at this month’s Clarence Valley Council ordinary meeting admitted to being wrong in the past.
And they did so gladly.
Council received a report at last Tuesday’s meeting meeting comparing the expected savings from the so-called “Super Depot” and the actual annual savings realised.
The report revealed some good news for ratepayers, with annual cost savings of $971,572 achieved against the original AEC report released in 2016.
While the expected savings were originally estimated to be $1.088 million per annum, general manager Ashley Lindsay revealed the report did not include overhead savings of approximately $98,695, which brings the savings to within $20,000 of the original figure.
The savings came from the redistribution of staff, which included a loss in 8.8 full-time equivalent staff, saving $822,456 annually.
With the consolidation of the depot, the reductions came from a removal of duplicated function, the ability to change supervisory responsibilities to activity based rather than location, and other efficiency gains.
There was also a saving in one-off costs associated with the redevelopment, with council saving $500,000 more than expected, resulting in an outflow of $1.692 million.
This was calculated by the expected upgrade costs of $8.7 million of the old depots being weighed against the $1.825 million received for the sale of the sites.
Councillor Karen Toms said while these costs did not include the remediation of the South Grafton site, which was taken from the sewer fund, she said it was something that had to happen anyway.
Although she admitted she was against the proposal at the beginning because of the costs, she was glad council bit the bullet and built it.
“Even though I was kicking and screaming for a little while,” Cr Toms said.
“I’ve had the pleasure of being there and having a look, and it’s fantastic. I think it’s a great site and it must make such a difference to our employees on their working days.”
Cr Andrew Baker also said he didn’t expect to see a report which realised the savings promised originally.
“I would just like to put on record that my pessimism was sadly misplaced, and I’m now quite comfortable with the new depot,” he said.
Mayor Jim Simmons also noted with gladness that the report contained the promise of even more savings to come.
The super-depot has caused much controversy over the years, with community protests at what was seemingly an endless increase in costs.
There was also outcry over the rehabilitation of asbestos material found on the site, and more recently debate about the use of razor wire on the site next to South Grafton High School.