An attempt to delay the new Shepparton Art Museum project until all funding is secured has been rebuffed by Greater Shepparton City Council’s chief, The News understands.
A former deputy mayor made efforts to pause progress on the $40 million new SAM until all the cash needed was locked in.
Cr Fern Summer submitted a notice of motion for inclusion at a recent council meeting, seeking to hold up council funding for the project, which would delay construction.
But council chief executive Peter Harriott blocked the item from being included into a council meeting agenda.
Asked about the matter, Mr Harriott said he had received a notice of motion in relation to the new SAM from Cr Summer.
He stressed that, as per local law, a CEO might reject any notice of motion which was vague or unclear in intention.
‘‘So I checked for vagueness and clarity of intention and on that basis I rejected it,’’ he said.
The CEO said he gave Cr Summer a chance to amend it.
‘‘I did a further review of vagueness and intention ... it fell short of those tests ... I formally rejected it,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s not the first time a notice of motion has been rejected.’’
Asked about the reasons for the rejection, Mr Harriott said he didn’t wish to go into detail other than to suggest an extensive review was undertaken ‘‘with many points being raised’’.
‘‘I think the community, councillors and key stakeholders will realise this is a major project and with major projects comes a difference of opinion.
‘‘And I think we’re all robust enough to work our way through an issue like a notice of motion and move on.’’
Mr Harriott confirmed that significant architectural contracts were in place and progressing, and a demolition contract was in place and progressing.
‘‘Both those projects are going very well and they will be setting us up for progression to the next stage shortly.’’
Cr Summer said the rejected notice of motion marked a push to pause the council’s budget allocation until other funding was locked in.
The former deputy mayor argued the city should look at postponing SAM’s construction until all funding, including the philanthropic contribution, was ‘‘in the bank’’.
Cr Summer said it would provide a delay to give the SAM Foundation time to come up with a substantial share of its funding, including a contribution to underwrite the facility’s operational costs.
She believed it would be healthy ‘‘to take a step back, examine where we’re at, without the pressures of a $15million budget allocation’’, referring to the council’s financial contribution to the project.
‘‘I don’t think it would jeopardise (the project) long term if we stepped back and looked at it from a good governance perspective.’’
Cr Summer said it was her second attempt to delay or abandon SAM in a notice of motion, both of which had been rejected.
Construction designs for the five-storey, $40 million new SAM at Victoria Park Lake are set to be completed in August, before the build starts towards the end of the year.
The new SAM project is set for completion in September, 2020.