A recommendation to Tuesday night's meeting is calling for the council to proceed with the Performing Arts Centre (PAC) with a revised costing of $18.5 million.
It's well above the second price revision of $12.1m and more than the $16m allocated in the 2019/20 council budget for the project.
Cr Sam Rowland is against it, saying the debt legacy is too high.
"If the recommendation is adopted by councillors, we pass the point of no return and the council will be leaving a legacy of debt for the ratepayers," he said.
"The council already has debt exceeding $20 million. This is from projects such as the pipeline, the Civic Centre and the Recreation Area (Veolia Arena).
"I fully support the adaptive re-use of the McDermott Centre but unfortunately, the cost of a performing arts centre is too high."
He said ratepayers had already spent $1.4 million just to get to this point and there were no guarantees that the cost wouldn't blow out to $20 million or more.
"We are dealing with an old heritage building. Any builder out there will tell you that the likelihood of there being construction issues, which add to the end cost, is very high," he said.
"The cost of this project cannot be viewed in isolation of other big projects the council is pursuing such as the aquatic centre redevelopment and the community centre; the cumulative cost is prohibitive.
"There have been no disclosures made to the community about the cost blow-out of the project and at the very least, they need time to process and weigh up the huge cost against the desire for a performing arts centre before councillors sign off on it.
"If the project proceeds, significant structural and design changes will need to be made in order to reduce costs and those changes will affect the viability of the business case which formed part of our decision making all of those months ago.
"This is a nice concept and Goulburn is moving forward, but it's time to pull the pin on the performing arts centre and focus on other great and more realistic projects such as the aquatic centre and Community Centre."
But Mayor Bob Kirk isn't so sure. He said he was prepared to look at ways the PAC could be delivered without greatly compromising its original intent and creating unrealistic debt.
"It will never be as cheap as it is today," he said.
Cr Kirk pointed out that even with maximum borrowing for the facility, coupled with existing projects, in several years the council's debt service ratio would reach 8pc, well below the 13pc industry benchmark. In addition, grants for the PAC were higher than expected ($7.5m)
"If we don't do it when we're in a strong position, it will probably never happen. This is our best opportunity yet and I'm all for making it work if we can," he said.
He did not believe it would impact on the council's ability to deliver other projects and services
Tuesday's report makes 13 recommendations, including negotiations with Zauner Constructions to reduce its price to $16,365,000. Their proposed selection followed two request for tender processes, all of which were above cost expectations.
Operations director Matt O'Rourke advises against calling another round of tenders, saying the time to do this will risk losing grant funding, which carry milestones.
The remaining $2.235m in the $18.5m estimate covers council incurred costs such as electrical, demolition, site supervision, cafe fit-out and an $800,000 contingency.
The report also recommends that councillors confirm their earlier decision to sell 56 Clinton Street, with the first $1.5m going towards the PAC.
In addition, it suggests engaging a performing arts industry specialist to review the centre's configuration, with a view to its simplification. These could include reducing the 400-seat capacity, lowering or removing the fly tower, removing the orchestra pit and placing air-conditioning on the roof rather than in the basement.
Cr Kirk said councillors would have to weigh all of these up, at the same time ensuring the venue could still cater for large shows and that the business case wouldn't be undermined.
The Mayor told The Post he would suggest some changes to the and additions to the recommendations but for now, he was happy for the process to continue.
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