GYMPIE Region Mayor Ron Dyne says his council's much-criticised Northumberland Hotel purchase has saved ratepayers $30 million-plus.
This is despite a continuing rent bill to accommodate staff who cannot fit into the newly furbished building.
Responding to claims that the project was a failure, because it is unable to accommodate all the staff originally intended, Cr Dyne said the previous Cooloola Shire Council had never resolved the staff accommodation issues that came with the amalgamation of Gympie City and Widgee Shire councils.
To meet the requirements of the much larger re-amalgamated Gympie Regional Council, the council had commissioned a design and costing for a building between the library and the civic centre.
"To meet current standards (and council requirements) the new building cost was identified as $35 million."
This was viewed as unaffordable.
"Following consideration of limited options an opportunity presented with the Northumberland Hotel.
"An initial concept was that up to 60 people would be accommodated.
"However detailed design and consideration of staff comfort precluded this number.
"The building, given its previous use, obviously needed major refurbishment.
"While the Planning directorate could be accommodated, it was not considered practical to split the Design Division between buildings, therefore an extension of the lease (on the division's existing offices) was negotiated at around $56,000 a year, plus CPI for an additional three years.
"The total cost of purchasing and refurbishing the North is approximately $3.05 million, considerably less than $35 million and significantly alleviates the most pressing staff accommodation issues," he said.
To meet current standards the new building cost was identified as $35 million