Council hopes to resolve cable contract dispute quickly
A contractual dispute between Sunshine Coast Council and one of its international broadband network subsea cable partners is hoped to be resolved quickly.
Councillors have been advised by council officers to delegate authority to acting chief executive Warren Bunker at Thursday's August ordinary meeting to "resolve the contractual dispute" in a manner outlined in confidential session in relation to the Sunshine Coast International Broadband Network project.
Mayor Mark Jamieson told the Daily on Wednesday council legal officers were working through the dispute with RTI Connectivity.
"I do anticipate it'll be resolved in the near future," Cr Jamieson said.
"It's coming before council in the next little while."
Cr Jamieson said the matter had been "expertly managed" by council's legal advisers.
"It's a process of negotiation," he said.
He said he was unable to give any information about the nature of the dispute, but said it would be resolved "through negotiations with our partners".
"There's a contractual matter that needs to be resolved, our officers and our legal representatives have been working on it, but that's all I can say," Cr Jamieson said.
The officer's report tabled for Thursday's council meeting showed the total project expenditure at the end of June, 2020, was at $35.17 million.
The project budget was $35 million.
"These things are never an exact science," Cr Jamieson said.
"This is a new area in which we're dealing.
"I'm more than happy with the progress we're making. There are lots of things going on in the world today that weren't anticipated that will have an impact on all projects."
Cr Jamieson said the contract dispute was unrelated to the exceeded budget.
"We've successfully brought the cable ashore, it's here, it will be an incredibly important enabler for business and industry in the future," Cr Jamieson said.
Council had also executed an Assistance Agreement with the State Government for a grant of $15 million towards the project, and the first payment claim of $2.5 million had been received.
Claims for the remaining amounts were targeted to be finalised by September 30, 2020, the council officer's report said.
"I think all along we've said that we're on the hook for $20 million," Cr Jamieson said.
"It was a $35 million project, the state put in $15 million, we've put in another $20 million.
"There'll always be ongoing operational costs in terms of our share of it, but that'll be offset by the revenues that come in from the users of it as well."
The council officer's report included a forecast for the project to contribute up to 864 jobs and $453 million in economic value-add for the region.
A council spokesman said the major parts of the project were now complete, and "no additional major expenditures will be incurred".
The spokesman said with the receipt of the State Government grant, the cost to council would be "just over $20 million".
The Daily has attempted to contact RTI Connectivity for comment.