The budget for Blackbutt’s CBD upgrade will expand from $1.3 million to $1.6 million because of construction cost blow-outs fuelled by the COVID-19 pandemic (Graphic: SBRC)

November 24, 2021

Shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have added an extra $300,000 to the cost of Blackbutt’s CBD upgrade.

News about the project’s progress was shared by South Burnett Councillor Gavin Jones at Wednesday’s General Meeting.

The upgrade, which was first proposed as $550,000 in CBD infrastructure improvements early last year, expanded into a $1.3 million makeover after the Council held two days of public community consultation meetings to get the views of the town’s residents last December.

Councillors then agreed to tip an extra $750,000 into the project in April this year with the intention the project would be finished by Christmas.

However, at Wednesday’s meeting Cr Gavin Jones moved the Council inject a further $300,000 into the project, increasing its final budget to $1.6 million.

The extra money will come from the third round of Council’s Local Roads and Community Infrastructure (LRCI) grant funding, a Federal program that provides money for road and community infrastructure upgrades.

Cr Jones said the need for extra funds was caused by cost blowouts in the construction industry, fuelled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cr Kathy Duff said she supported the extra funding but wondered why detailed costings had not been provided for the project to date.

Cr Jones said the reason was that after the Federal Government granted a six-month extension to the project’s completion date, staff had gone back out to tender in the hope the situation may have changed.

He was hopeful this re-tendering process would yield better results, and expected more detailed costings should be available by December’s General Meeting.

Cr Kirstie Schumacher, who seconded Cr Jones’ motion, said she would also like to see project costings and receive regular progress updates.

But she was happy to support the budget increase because the upgrade was an important project for the town.

Mayor Otto agreed, saying he had been in Blackbutt at last Sunday’s markets and could see that Les Muller Park and Coulson Street could both do with updating.

“You couldn’t get a car park in the main street and it (ie Blackbutt) is the southern gateway to the South Burnett and it should be a showpiece,” he said.

The motion to increase the project’s budget by $300,000 was carried unanimously.

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