A NEW $1000 pedestrian crossing to benefit children attending an east Warrnambool Catholic primary school has been described as a miracle by city councillor Peter Hulin.
However, his inference that previous costings for other crossings he had suggested were unfairly skewed against him has sparked a sharp rebuttal from the mayor.
Cr Hulin complained to Monday night’s city council meeting the low cost for the new east Warrnambool crossing was substantially cheaper than other estimates of $60,300 last year.
“I know this crossing will help Our Lady Help of Christians school — it may be a miracle that we can get it installed for only $1000 because every time I’ve asked for a crossing the costs have been much higher,” he said. Cr Hulin quoted estimates by council officers for crossings at the Liebig-Timor streets intersection showing $40,000 for street lights, $8000 for signs, $6500 for contingencies and $5800 for design.
City infrastructure director Peter Robertson replied that the new east Warrnambool crossing on the southern service road of Raglan Parade opposite Gateway Plaza was simply line marking, two poles and signs.
Yesterday mayor Jacinta Ermacora said she took exception to Cr Hulin’s inference that the difference in costings was politically motivated.
“I’ll always defend the integrity of the council and particularly the integrity of senior officers,” she said.
“His inference is an insult to council bureaucrats who take pride in the advice they give.
“Councillors should not distort the truth and therefore mislead the council and community.”
Cr Hulin said he did not blame council officers.
“This is not a sleight on the officers, but I have to question how when I ask for crossings the cost is $63,000 and when the mayor asks for a similar thing it costs $1000,” he said.
“Clearly there is one rule for Cr Hulin and Cr Lowe and one rule for the others.”
Estimates at the centre of the debate were contained in a confidential report to councillors in July last year.
They were based on the four roadways connected to the busy Liebig-Timor streets CBD intersection.
City chief executive Bruce Anson told The Standard yesterday the costings reflected eight lanes of traffic, an upgrade of power lines and lighting and contingencies for problems with underground power supply.
“There’s a fundamental difference in the scope of the projects,” he said.
“The figures are accurate and reflect the size of the job.”
Cr Hulin also referred to his often-mentioned request for a pedestrian crossing on Viaduct Road and claimed it too could be done cheaply.
He also cited the Moore Street footpath and Daltons Road crossing as examples of other projects he had suggested, but had been ignored until the mayor mentioned them in her election campaign.
“If re-elected my priority will be to have council meetings streamed live on the internet so people can see the debates,” he said.