SAM given go-ahead on stage two

By Ashlea Witoslawski

Greater Shepparton City Council has given the go-ahead for stage two of Shepparton Art Museum, despite no funding committed for the next phase.

With the project budget sitting at a total of $49.9 million, stage two is set at a cost of $2.5 million and will include landscaping, the installation of specialist equipment and parts of the Kaiela Arts section of the building, as the gallery relocates from its current location in High St, Shepparton.

As part of the council's contract with Kane Construction Pty Ltd, which was awarded on February 26, 2019, funding for stage one was delivered in monthly payments of $3.3 million, with council given time to source funding opportunities for stage two.

Furthermore, council is also required to provide direction to the contractor on moving forward with stage two by Friday.

The go-ahead was approved by all councillors, excluding Fern Summer, at the December ordinary council meeting on Tuesday.

During a post-council meeting conversation, City of Greater Shepparton Mayor Seema Abdullah said the council was still pursuing funding options but was required to commit to the next stage in order to avoid extra costs and construction delays.

“Council is already actively pursuing avenues to fund the $2.5 million,” Cr Abdullah said.

“Otherwise there will be delays and of course with delays comes extra costs, so to avoid that kind of liability we needed to give the go-ahead to the contractors.”

Cr Abdullah said the council was currently awaiting the outcome of a $1.5 million grant as part of the Victorian Government's Aboriginal Infrastructure Fund.

Hopeful about obtaining the funding, she said the council had expected to hear a decision last week.

“We are waiting to hear about the outcome from the grant and are speaking with the state government about other funding opportunities that exist,” she said.

“You can't say something until you’ve seen it in black and white, but we are hopeful.”

Having now committed to the full project budget of the new Shepparotn Art Museum, Cr Abdullah said budget implications would be discussed further in the 20-21 financial year, after learning the outcome of the Aboriginal Infrastructure Fund and approaches for external funding for other projects.


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