A $95,000 cost blow-out for Fergburger’s controversial footpath work has shocked a veteran Queenstown business owner - and left the council with egg on its face.
Last July, the council approved a plan to swallow three carparks outside the popular burger joint, and to extend the footpath to relieve pedestrian congestion.
As revealed by Mountain Scene online this week, the council confirmed the original $100,000 estimate has blown out to $195,000 - the balance paid by ratepayers.
It reached agreement with the Fergburger to get a $3500 annual fee, to be reviewed in the next year, for occupying what used to be public land.
Pharmacist Kim Wilkinson says the cost overrun leaves him “disturbed”.
“I just assumed they had done their homework. But that’s not necessarily a good assumption to make.
“I don’t think it should ever have been done. Businesses when they outgrow their premises need to move to larger premises. That’s what I believe should have happened in the first place - and council should have turned it down.”
Wilkinson said as much at a council meeting last July - but the majority of councillors signed off on the plan, which initially said work would be completed by Christmas.
The carparks have been torn up and a tender is expected to be let this week.
A report prepared for the July council meeting by chief engineer Ulrich Glasner, signed off by planning chief Marc Bretherton, says “it is the view of infrastructure staff that the council should not fund any of this work”.
Based on “existing quotes received” the risk of going over the $100,000 budget is “low” and “unlikely”, it says.
The councillors who wanted their names recorded against last year’s vote were Merv Aoake, Craig ‘Ferg’ Ferguson, Mel Gazzard and Simon Stamers-Smith.
Comment from the quartet this week was muted.
Aoake called it “regrettable” while ‘Ferg’ says he was surprised it got through initially, adding: “I’m not proud of the way it has played out.”