Mini golf plan hits bunker as city council tees off at budget costs

A $150,000 plan for mini golf at North Adelaide could be sliced while rates could rise significantly as Adelaide City Council juggles projects, priorities and financial realities ahead of its upcoming budget. 

Mar 20, 2024, updated Mar 20, 2024

Lord Mayor Jane Lomax-Smith has told councillors to “sharpen their pencils” when considering the $110m capital works program in the lead-up to the 2024-25 budget. 

In last night’s finance committee meeting, councillors discussed some of the main city projects and priorities for the upcoming year and said the current list of project costs was “unsustainable”. 

The council says it’s facing a state of “budget repair” due to the previous underfunding of renewal projects such as buildings, roads, footpaths and art. 

Due to the inherited backlog, the council reportedly needs to claw back $150 million in revenue over the next decade. 

Councillors are debating where they can save, with Lomax-Smith saying if they can’t achieve cuts in capital works, they need to do better. 

“We want to spend more and more, and it’s just not sustainable,” she said. 

“We do have to cut something and if we can’t cut it in capital then we have to cut it in operating. 

“If we can’t cut it in operating, we have to slash our way through the grants because if we’re giving $6 million away, we really have to decide whether the $6 million dollars actually delivers our strategic desires unless they do, we shouldn’t be spending that money.”

What does this mean for rates?

A possible route to recover costs is by raising rates by 7.4 per cent. 

Lomax-Smith said it could be a reality for budget repair, telling ABC Radio Adelaide that before she was elected there was a lack of investment in infrastructure and rates had been frozen for 10 years.

“All of our asset assessment tells us we have to put between more than $10 million a year extra into our assets to stop them falling over,” she said.

Some of the areas in the capital works budget that the council discussed cost-savings are:

Adelaide City Council has embarked on a multi-million redevelopment of the ageing Central Market Arcade. Photo: Tony Lewis / InDaily

Central Market Arcade redevelopment

A projected $15,918,000 has been allocated to the Central Market’s expansion of the market which includes a commercial office tower, retail, on-site childcare, new residences, a premium hotel and activated public spaces known as Market Square.

An additional $100,000 is allocated to purchasing the Adelaide Central Market’s bio-separator, a waste management system that ensures 99 per cent of organic waste is deferred to landfill. The council currently lease the bio-separator, and purchasing it will benefit the budget long-term. 

$355,000 is allocated to the new parents’ room in the Central Market.  

An additional $285,000 is allocated to progress the Central Market Arcade redevelopment with the project partner, ICD property. 

Earlier in the night, when receiving a presentation on the draft Adelaide Central Market Authority business plan and budget, Lomax-Smith queried whether the new parent’s room could be parked for six to 12 months in case all the works were too much at once, suggesting pushing out the parent’s room as a bit of relief.  

Councillor David Elliott also queried the multiple market works in the capital projects list. 

“I will be happy to support a couple of these projects for the market, but not all at once,” he said. 

North Adelaide mini golf

One capital works project councillors discussed cutting was the development of mini golf within the North Adelaide Golf Club, which would cost the council an allocated $150,000. 

The funds are allocated to a detailed design of a new 18-hole fairway-style mini-golf course at the location of the existing Par 3 course at the club. 

To make room for the mini-golf, the Par 3 golf course will require some modification of holes and the new minigolf facility would be operated from the Par 3 kiosk.

“Mini golf, it’s like Dracula – you can lie it on the floor, put a stake through its heart and it rises up and it’s on the capital works budget again,” Lomax-Smith said. 

“We haven’t decided to do it but it’s like the undead, you can’t get rid of it.”

Councillor Phillip Martin said he didn’t support the project as it was a big financial commitment and “these are constrained times”. 

The Adelaide Lutheran Sports Club plans to upgrade its southern park lands facility. Photo: Brett Hartwig/InDaily

Sports facilities on the park lands

Within the recommended capital projects to fund in 2024-25, there’s a new community sports building at Park 21 West, located at Goodwood Road in Golden Wattle Park/Mirnu Wirra. 

The existing building is leased to the Adelaide Community Sport and Recreation Association (ACSARA), formerly known as the Adelaide Lutheran Sports and Recreation Association. 

The council document specifies $550,000 allocated to deliver the detailed design of the new building. 

This project will facilitate multiple sporting clubs and teams, with $1.55m committed in state government grant money. ACSARA has said they’ll contribute $1m in funding, but this is yet to be confirmed.  

In the discussion about funding sports buildings on the park lands, Martin raised ongoing issues with community buildings that intersect with the funding priorities. 

“We noted from the research that there are 26 buildings on the park lands for sports that don’t have gender-specific changing facilities, so it seems to me that we haven’t actually prioritised what are the really important, urgent projects that need attention,” he said. 

“I think we’re a long way from determining how we ought to be spending these sorts of money.” 

It was noted that a workshop on community feedback to the policies of buildings on the park lands will be on the agenda at the next Adelaide Park Lands Authority/Kadaltilla meeting on March 28. 

The discussion around community buildings on the park lands and how they’re funded will be one to watch as it comes back to the committee following the Kadaltilla meeting. 

Tree planting as part of the Climate Strategy

Funding of $1.7m is allocated to the Integrated Climate Strategy’s city public realm greening program under capital works, with council documents noting a potential $300,000 could be received in grant funding. 

This is a multi-year budget proposal for public greening to support a net increase in street trees annually, in line with the data within the council’s draft Integrated Climate Strategy and Strategic Plan for 2024-2028. 

The main concern with this is the cost of tree planting, which the council administration flagged as possibly costing $20,000 per tree due to challenges with underground infrastructure. 

“As many will know, I’m in favour of this [the climate strategy], we also need to find ways to bring down the cost of our tree-planting efforts,” Councillor Mark Siebentritt said. 

“As a capital city, we are genuinely going to meet our future targets, $20,000 a tree cannot be the default that we’re working with. We’ve got to find a way to do better.”

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