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The Dunedin City Council is to seek a deal that could shave $3 million off the cost of the Otago Settlers Museum redevelopment.
The council had budgeted $7.5 million to complete stage four of the museum's redevelopment, which included a new entrance foyer, shop and display area for the steam locomotive Josephine.
However, a council staff report to yesterday's finance, strategy and development committee meeting confirmed savings of $3 million had been identified after tenders came in lower than expected.
The report, by council community life general manager Graeme Hall, came after councillors seeking savings at last month's full council meeting asked for reports on all significant capital projects with uncommitted spending.
Mr Hall's report had been due to be considered in the non-public part of yesterday's meeting, but was moved into the open meeting - with details of the most competitive tender removed from the report - at the beginning of yesterday's meeting.
However, councillors moved their debate back into non-public after concerns were raised by Cr Kate Wilson about a technicality of the council's timetable.
Any committee decision to accept the $3 million saving and proceed with stage four would require approval at the next full council meeting on October 31.
However, the tender allowing the $3 million saving was only valid for one month, and would expire on October 20.
Concerns about the timetable came after Mr Hall and consultants again discussed the merits of the stage four work, while Cr Lee Vandervis renewed his criticism of it as wasteful expenditure.
Councillors continued their debate behind closed doors after moving into non-public, before emerging just in time to call an end to the meeting.
Speaking afterwards, committee chairman Cr Syd Brown said no decision had been made about whether to proceed with stage four at the reduced cost.
Instead, council chief executive Paul Orders had been asked to approach the company with the most competitive tender for the work and discuss extending the deadline for their offer to October 31.
That would allow councillors to make a final decision at the full council meeting, before accepting the successful company's tender, Cr Brown said.