Park lands and asset upgrade focus as city council budget passes

Adelaide City Council will raise rates by 5.9 per cent in a budget that prioritises renewing council assets, capital works and upgrading park lands buildings and sports facilities.

Jun 26, 2024, updated Jun 26, 2024

The council’s budget was passed last night after weeks of debate about Economic Development Agency funding and what areas of the budget to cut to achieve the smallest rate rise.

Council rates will increase by 5.9 per cent to achieve $144.908 million in revenue.

Short-stay accommodation will also be classified with a commercial rate instead of a residential rate if the property is available to stay in for 90 days or more in a year.

The rate increase was imposed to help fund council asset renewals, with 1.5 per cent of rates allocated to upgrade park lands buildings to ensure sporting clubs and communities have adequate facilities.

This comes after community consultation found the standards of facilities haven’t kept up with increased women and junior participation in sports.

Inadequate facilities were a factor in a senior women’s side disbanding, the council heard in April this year. Photo: Brett Hartwig/InDaily

Councillor Mark Siebentritt, who chairs the council’s City Finance and Governance Committee said it was a worthwhile investment for the community.

“I will never forget the conversation I had with someone who called me to talk to me about what they saw when they witnessed toilets overflowing in a community building in our park lands, I hope that never happens again and this is a step in the right direction,” he said.

Other community services spending includes $22.889 million on park lands and open space maintenance, $8.325 million on road renewals, $5.377 million for libraries and $5.832 million on waste management.

And $56 million will fund asset renewal for things like roads, footpaths, parks and buildings, collectively valued at more than $2 billion.

The council’s asset renewal funding ratio for 2024/25 is 92.5 per cent, which Seibentritt said is within the band expected of local government in South Australia.

The Essential Services Commission of SA found that underspending on asset renewal is a risk to councils across the local government sector as it leads to increased costs for future renewals, repairs and maintenance.

Asset renewal is included in their capital works budget, which is receiving $110 million and includes funding main street upgrades to Hindley Street and Gouger Street upgrade plans.

The proposed vision of Hindley Street upgrades. This picture: Adelaide City Council

Councillor Mary Couros, who voted against the budget, said spending within the capital works budget, such as public art, should have been given extra scrutiny.

InDaily in your inbox. The best local news every workday at lunch time.
By signing up, you agree to our User Agreement andPrivacy Policy & Cookie Statement. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

“These expenditures, while perhaps beneficial in isolation, must be weighed against our long-term sustainability,” Couros said.

“Our long-term financial plan indicates a concerning debt of $315m in 10 years… it’s imperative we take proactive measures now to prevent such an outcome.”

The council’s projected borrowings for 2024/25 is $53.677 million, and their long-term financial plan is in the process of development, to be finalised and further discussed in upcoming finance committee meetings.

Couros disagreed with the 2024/25 budget development process, saying it was “messy and lacking transparency”.

“Unlike a typical suburban council, our operational context is unique – this budget attempts to mould us into a suburban framework disregarding our distinctive needs and priorities,” Couros said.

Seibentritt said this is a “financially responsible budget” born out of “robust discussions”.

“When we invest in our own streets, there are indeed borrowings that are required, but this is essential so that we can balance intergenerational equity issues so that we ensure that the ratepayers today are not footing the entire bill for benefits that will spread across not just one, but many generations,” he said.

$3.5 million will be spent on implementing the council’s climate strategy, including weaning off gas in city buildings, increasing active transport and supporting Aboriginal land management practices.

The Rundle Mall levy collected from commercial businesses will generate approximately $4.066 million which will be used to advertise and promote the shopping precinct.

A pensioner rate rebate of $100 per household has been reinstated, with eligible concession card holders able to apply.

The council’s 2024/25 budget delivers an operating surplus of $9.367 million.

Local News Matters
Copyright © 2024 InDaily.
All rights reserved.