An extra $3 million could be spent to complete the development of a long-awaited community hub, taking the total project cost to more than $12.7 million, if approved by councillors next week.
Hepburn Shire councillors will consider a report at a council meeting on Tuesday night that recommends the extra funds be invested to complete the development of the Hepburn Hub at The Rex in Daylesford.
If the extra $3.012 million was approved, it is expected The Rex would open for community use in April 2021.
When it is completed we will be the envy of every small rural council in the state.Evan King, Hepburn Shire Council CEO
The project report comes as community frustration at the project grows - many problems and alleged mismanagement of the project has caused a delivery delay of more than three years.
Hepburn Shire Mayor Cr Licia Kokocinski said council acknowledged the frustration of the community with the progress and associated costs.
"While exciting, the Hepburn Hub at The Rex is a challenging project and we accept we have not met community expectations, particularly in the early planning and management," she said.
"We apologise to our community for the delay."
The revised project scope for the Hepburn Hub at The Rex details plans to deliver four commercial tenancies, a library, council offices and a community auditorium.
Council purchased the building in 2016 for $6.345 million, with an original development budget of $1.25 million.
In mid 2017 council officers said the development would be finished by the end of 2017.
Works were suspended at the site in June 2018 to seek a planning permit as is required for works greater than $1 million.
Work has remained suspended since, pending the resolution of several regulatory, financial and technical issues.
Hepburn Shire Council chief executive officer Evan King said council had spent an 'enormous' amount of time since trying to understand the project, the works that had been contracted and the works needed to be completed.
A specialised project manager was employed last year and has worked to deliver this new report to council.
The report proposes council complete some works, before putting the remainder of the work out to tender.
It is proposed council loans the $3 million needed to complete the work and the funds be recovered from the sale of surplus buildings including the Duke Street council offices and the old library once the project is delivered.
Mr King said while the process had been 'rocky', the outcome would be fantastic.
"This is the biggest single capital project this council has done since amalgamation," he said.
"This is a significantly important asset. When it is completed we will be the envy of every small rural council in the state.
"The process has been rocky and we can't change that now, but what it delivers will be seriously impressive."
The project is currently subject to a Local Government Inspectorate review, following governance concerns which resulted in the council's new CEO Evan King self-reporting to the Local Government Inspectorate.
Cr Kokocinski said council was committed to the investigation and provided relevant information and documentation.
"Everything has been an open book. We will own the outcomes of the investigation," she said.
"We are committed to addressing it and will do what is required to fix things up. We have let them know we have already instituted a number of changes."
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