Costs that were not budgeted for in the Bunker Cartoon Gallery Inc.’s plans for the expansion of the facility are to be covered by Council following requests for a further $213,000 to be given to the project.
The Bunker Cartoon Gallery (BCG) Inc. requested further funding after finding the group’s budget did not cover the 10% escalation of construction costs since the start of the project to create a new gallery space and café, Developer Contribution charges, a water network upgrade costing $9,000 and an Essential Energy infrastructure upgrade costing $63,000. The total amount requested was $213,000 over the next 16 months.
After consideration of a report on the request and representations from BCG Inc. representative Paul McKeon, Council agreed to contribute $189,700 in total comprising $63,000 for the Essential Energy bill, $41,700 for water and sewer Developer Contributions costs and an annual operating subsidy for 2020/21 of $85,000 which takes into account cash reserves forecast by BCG Inc.
Council has previously provided funding to assist BCG Inc. in applying for a NSW Government grant for the project of:
- Cost of preparing and lodging a development application $ 20,000
- Cost to enable preparation and writing of Grant application $ 25,000
- Provide matching contribution for historical exhibition research $ 10,000
- Costs towards completion of Construction Certificate $100,000
- Total $155,000
For a number of years, the Cartoon Gallery has also had its running costs subsidised with the current annual subsidy of $65,000 due to end in June 2020. It also has a discounted rent of $3,281 a year plus GST effective from 1 July 2020.
During the inception phase of the project, various concerns were raised at the time with BCG Inc. with regard to the estimated construction cost, which was being factored into the overall budget for the project. A number of the issues now being experienced by BCG Inc. were previously raised with BCG Inc.
However, the report also pointed out that having a variety of cultural experiences in the Coffs Harbour local government area is a goal of Council’s adopted ‘Creative Coffs, Council’s Cultural Strategic Plan 2017-2022’ and there is a risk that should Council not provide some level of assistance to BCG Inc., the project may not be completed.