HOW could anyone get it so wrong?
Last November, Toodyay Shire CEO Stan Scott convinced our elected councillors to borrow $8 million to build a massive new sport and recreation precinct, including a long-awaited town swimming pool.
The decision gave Mr Scott authority to proceed with raising funds for the $23 million project, the biggest in shire history.Read more
Two councillors warned the huge loan would cost too much but they were ignored.
It was a pet project of former shire president David Dow, who made two trips to Canberra in three failed shire attempts organised by Mr Scott to secure Federal funds to help pay for the massive project.
In the background was an option to move the historic Toodyay Agricultural Show to a new sports oval and relocate cramped shire offices to a modern new administration centre by selling the old showgrounds site to property developers.
It all sounded so great for Toodyay that few bothered to check Mr Scott’s figures.
Perhaps they were dazzled by the sheer size and scope of the plan, and wanted to show ratepayers that after years of inaction they were finally going to deliver.
But what they failed to grasp was the simple fact that borrowing $8 million would cost ratepayers an additional $900,000 a year over the next 20 years which – with annual pool running costs of $120,000 a year – would have sent the shire broke or forced rates to skyrocket.
If this newspaper had not blown the whistle on costs in its December edition, ratepayers may well have been saddled with a crippling debt for the next 20 years.
Cr Rob Welburn told a hastily convened special council meeting on December 12 – the first of two council meetings that month – that the CEO’s flawed costings were “too far out” and “burdensome”.
Mr Scott reported that his advice to council contained “errors”, was “inaccurate” and “understated the real cost of the project” but he offered no explanation or apology.
How could anyone paid at least $180,000 a year plus a vehicle, fuel and other ratepayer-funded perks get it so wrong?
As regular Herald readers would know, this is not the first time our shire CEO has screwed up big time.
Other examples include last year’s ‘unlawful’ rates that had to be quashed in Perth, two botched attempts at new shire local laws that had to be re-advertised, long delays for new video surveillance cameras to help Toodyay police combat local crime, a new visitor information bay which stood empty for a year and a new shire rating system, which – for some property owners – appears yet to be finalised.
Then there’s more than $500,000 of ratepayers’ money lost in a failed bid to sue former shire CEO Graham Merrick and former shire president Charlie Wroth for $160,000, in which Mr Scott and former shire president Dow played leading roles.
Are ratepayers getting good value for money? You be the judge.