ELGIN Town Hall’s new technical equipment will cost nearly £127,000, it emerged this week.
Upgrades to the sound and lighting system at the local authority building form part of a £1.23 million refurbishment, agreed as part of the council’s February budget and due to commence in April.
Councillor Eric McGillivray, who commissioned the town hall’s existing system two decades ago, said he was "flabbergasted" to learn how much the replacement would cost.
"I was aware that this item was on the capital plan budget for education and social care," he said during Wednesday’s meeting of the children and young people’s services committee.
"What I was not aware of until yesterday was the proposed financial breakdown."
In times of austerity, he argued the existing technical facilities were adequate, and the sum could be better spent elsewhere.
"I know with inflation, prices normally go up over the years, but in the entertainment and theatre business the opposite is true. Equipment has never been cheaper, so you can imagine my amazement when I learned the proposed cost for the sound and lighting system was £126,950.
"I was absolutely flabbergasted and I had to remind myself it was Elgin Town Hall and not the Albert Hall. I also asked myself, ‘In these times of austerity, can we really afford this luxury?’."
Educational resources manager Nick Goodchild said the specification was drawn up by advisors following discussions with user groups as well as theatre and stage lighting experts Northern Light.
"The intention is to provide a sound and lighting system that is modern and is suitable for use by both large organisation and amateur organisation alike and that hopefully, a modern and well specified system will, in fact, attract wider usage of the facility and increase income through that," Mr Goodchild said.
For more on this story, see this week's 'Northern Scot' print edition