Highlights of draft City of Unley 2018/19 Budget.

While limiting the likely rate increase to 2.8% (including a 0.3% allowance as our best guess as to what the China rubbish crisis may inflict on us), the City of Unley 2018/19 Budget is achieving great things for our community.

Balancing Budget

Council is embarking on some major projects. Projects that will benefit future generations of Unley. Given this and in keeping with our policy on Capital Works we will be taking out loans to fund the balance after some successful grant applications. By so doing they will have a minimal effect on the rate rise in the Unley 2018/19 Budget.

The proposed New Capital Projects total $8.321M net and include:

  • King William Road Streetscape project $2.25M, with a further $5.5M to be spent in 2019-20.
  • Implementation of the local area traffic management study for Parkside and Fullarton $215K.
  • Continued implementation of Council’s Cycling and Walking Plan. Year 3 totalling $180K, focussed on the King William Road intersection with Simpson Parade and King William Road from number 29 to Greenhill Road.
  • Unley Oval Grandstand upgrades. Includes Female Change Rooms, and accessible canteen area stage 1 of a 2 year project, with a total net cost of $1.5M.
  • Goodwood Grandstand. $1.8M for year 1 of a  2 year program, at a total cost of $3.6m.
  • Brown Hill Keswick Creek project of $1.5M.

Capital Replacement Program

The proposed Capital Replacement Program of $7.627m net has been based on current asset information and asset management plans. Items include:

  • $1.127M for the proposed road reseal program;
  • $1.041M for the footways renewal program;
  • $872K for drains and stormwater;
  • $883K for the Property Program; and
  • $493K for reserves, recreation and open space projects.

A copy of the Capital Replacement Program providing more detail can be found on pages 81 thru’ 91 of the Draft 2018-19 Annual Business Plan.

As I indicated in my recent blog you can contribute your thoughts on the inclusion of these projects in the City of Unley 2018/19 Budget.

City of Unley 2018/19 Budget ready for Public Input.

The City of Unley tomorrow night will consider and endorse the draft of the 2018/19 Budget for public input. You will then have an opportunity to review the presented projects and their impact on funding requirements.

It will be your chance to influence 2108/19 budget, the rates you will be paying, and what services you will receive for this. It is indeed your chance to show the new State Government that you would prefer to influence our budget rather than allow another tier of Government (with no empathy for your neighbourhood) do it for you.

Council is considering a rate increase of 2.5% resulting in new borrowings in the order of $5.277 m to deliver all proposed projects and maintain current service levels. Not yet included is any allowance for increased waste disposal costs on the 2018/19 Budget.

Not included is any impact resulting from China’s ban on foreign waste to determine how this will affect our recyclables contract. We are currently investigating the impact. I am not sure whether we will have enough information to include it tomorrow night. Once done though it will quantify any possible cost increases for the disposal of recyclables (yellow bin) so as to incorporate it in our final draft.

Community consultation on our 2018/19 Budget

Community consultation will occur between 26 April and 25 May 2018. It will include six (6) public meetings/community information sessions as shown below. Council will also receive submissions by visiting Council’s website (through Your Say Unley) or written submissions to PO Box 1, Unley 5061.

We will accept all submissions up until the close of business on 25 May 2018.

Location                                                      Date                                 Time

Goodwood Library                                        10 May                            10.30am – 11.30am

Clarence Park Community Centre            10 May                             6.30pm – 7.30pm

(How convenient for ratepayers residing in my Ward)

Unley Civic Centre                                        14 May                             6.30pm – 7.30pm

Living Choice Fisher Street                        17 May                             10.30am – 11.30am

Living Choice Fisher Street                        17 May                              6.00pm – 7.00pm

Unley Community Centre                         21 May                              10.00am- 11.00am

The Annual Community Plan which underpins the 2018/19 budget will be found on the Council website after the meeting. Highlights can be found in my separate blog which I expect to post on Tuesday.

Is the Gourmet Gala too expensive to run?

Should we disassociate ourselves from future TDU’s. I ask everyone a separate question. Is it the TDU you have a concern with or the Gourmet Gala with its cost of $ 266,000 per event?

In other words, is the Gourmet Gala too expensive to run? Should we continue to run the Gourmet Gala?

The Gourmet Gala is held the night before a stage start for the TDU. It certainly does compliment the race start the next morning, making for an extended celebration.

 

But again, is it the TDU?

The Gala does require an investment by council of some $ 266,000 to stage. This is a significant investment.

But is it? It is actually in the order of just $ 10.00 for every rate payer, whether residential or commercial.

Some see this as focused on an elite group, others just a big party that we can do without. Others, a party we could hold at another time, at another venue, at far less cost than $ 266,000. A solid argument.

If it is all about party time in Unley we certainly can look at doing it at less cost. The Unley Way to go held many moons ago on Unley Oval is evidence of this.

The gourmet gala many do not realise goes well beyond this however.

The Gourmet Gala attracts people from within and from outside to King William Road as a destination. Up to 30,000 at a time which is far from an elite group.

This, in turn, must be economically good for business in King William Road. We are told by qualified experts that it has provided an economic benefit to the strip of over $ 5.0m to the City of Unley between 2011 and 2017. An average of close to $ 730,000 per event.

Some traders disagree, losing money on the night. These traders I suggest do not see the marketing potential of such an event. That is a debate however for another time.

So, when this comes up again, let us focus on what we are actually debating. Is it the TDU or is it the Gourmet Gala? Or is it both?

The above is far from an argument justifying the Gourmet Gala.

There is much more to consider as we consider any future commitment to the Gala. This conversation I think needs to expand into at least a 4th post just to explore alternatives to the Gala.

So watch this space.

The City of Unley and the TDU go hand in hand

The City of Unley is recognised for being the most cyclist friendly City in all of Adelaide. Adelaide in turn is Australia’s home of the Tour Down Under (TDU). Truly the City of Unley and the TDU go hand in hand.

 

Unley is recognised for it’s extensive bikeways. An inner suburban Council, we have been proactive in finding alternate forms of transport other than single occupancy cars.

For this reason, the City of Unley and the TDU go hand in hand.

It should be expected therefore that the Tour organisers see Unley’s bid to host a TDU start as a no-brainer. No surprise then that we have been awarded a Stage 2 start for the 2018 Santos Tour Down Under.

Santos Tour Down Under Race Director Mike Turtur said the race was thrilled to be returning to Unley for the start of Stage 2. “The location of Unley as a stage start is one of the iconic start locations throughout the history of the event and never disappoints,” he said.

“The support from the community in Unley and its surrounds is terrific. Next year the race will start on King William Road and the peloton will parade through the city from Unley and take a route down Melbourne Street for the first time.”

Stage 2 will be held in the morning of Wednesday 17 January.

As always, we will hold our Gourmet Gala event on the night before. An event that often attracts 30,000 people or more. The Gala has become one of Adelaide’s iconic events, seen by many as integral to the whole TDU experience.

There are however some within our community, indeed on Council, who see this differently. Please stay tuned for my take on that shortly. When I do, just remember that the City of Unley and the TDU go hand in hand.

Our 2017/18 Budget: a win for those in Our Community who contributed to the process.

After the most significant contribution from our community in who knows how long Council has determined its budget for 2017/18. A win for those in our Community who contributed to the process.

 

As I suggested in my blog post entitled “Please Stay with Us” the contribution from our community has seen positive results. Many initiatives suggested have now been included in the budget.

Those that have not have been earmarked for council to contemplate as projects later in the year. Should any of those projects receive council endorsement we will need to include them in one of our quarterly budget reviews.

The inclusion of the extra initiatives has seen the rate increase lift from 2.8 % to 2.9%.

The significance of this budget is the expectation that some of those projects we have been contemplating since before I joined Council may occur sooner rather than later. This includes:

  • the start of the Brownhill Creek Flood Mitigation project,
  • the redevelopment of the Unley Oval grandstand. This will be the culmination of a number of improvements at that ground.
  • Possible commencement of the Goodwood Oval and the Millswood Sporting Reserve,
  • Possible commencement of the redevelopment of King William Road between Arthur Street and Mitchell/Park Streets.

A win for those in our community who contributed to the process.

It will also see something I have been championing since my early days on Council. That is an improvement in service standard in the reactive maintenance of our footpaths.

Of course, we have also had to pass on a 9% increase in the NRM levy that Councils are forced to collect on behalf of the government. Our rate payers are contributing the equivalent of 3.1% of our rate-able income. That is a whopping (in excess of) $ 1.2 m. And we are collecting $ 38.3 m in rates.

If you want to know more about what the budget includes you can check it out here.

Using Loan Funding for Capital Works and Replacement

Council has long had a policy of using loan funding for Capital Works and Replacement. Doing so spreads the burden of capital expenditure over current and future rates.

Following on from my post introducing this years budget, if you look deeply into this years draft budget you will see that we are planning to have $15.7m of loans outstanding as at June 2018. This is $ 1.0m more than predicted for June 30 this year.

Our capital expenditure will actually grow by $ 3.5m during the next twelve months.

Most of this will be to fund our contribution to the Brownhill Creek Flood Mitigation Scheme. Part will be to fund the upgrade of the Goodwood Oval Grandstand. Part to provide detailed concept (project shovel ready) plans for the Goodwood Oval and Millswood Sport Grounds improvement plan. The Unley Oval improvement plan and the King William Road master plan will also be funded this way.

Whilst committing funds to these projects we will be paying back our current loans to the tune of $ 2.5m.

Loans of such magnitude can be frightening to some not personally used to loans of this size, including elected members. Having said that I remember when I first secured a home loan I could borrow 7 times my annual wage. Using that formula Council could conceivably borrow $ 280m.

That said this will not ever happen. We have a commitment to borrow no more than 80% of our net operating revenue (or approx $ 32m on today’s revenue).

Some might also suggest that we should not penalise future generations by burdening them with “such high” loans. If you have the cash to do this that is a reasonable observation.

The only way we could do this would be to increase the rates. If we did this to fund just $ 1.0m of capital expenditure we would need to increase rates in the order of 2.5%, nearly as much again as what we are currently proposing this year.

Council will continue therefore with a policy of using loan funding for Capital Works and Replacement.

Why would we provide a subsidy to Business

The question “why would we provide a subsidy to business” is resonating in the media today. This repeats a question asked by elected members at our last meeting. We debated then whether to accept a request for grant funding by the Hyde Park Tavern.

Hyde Park Tavern The Tavern’s application for grant funding was partially successful. Council voted 7-5 in favour of grant funding of $10,000. They had requested funding for half the budgeted cost of $ 70,000 for the project.

Debate on the night was lively. Many elected members I suggest argued that we are not and should not be in business to subsidise business. That is true. I agree.

The project however for which funding was requested and approved was to create an outdoor dining area. An outdoor dining area, not on their land, but on council land.

I believe those who supported the grant recognised that this business was prepared to invest in improving “our” infrastructure”. In other words it is a case not of a subsidy to business but supporting businesses who wish to contribute to improve the amenity of the neighbourhood in which they operate.

Why would we provide a subsidy to Business. I say because they are prepared to invest in their community. Because this will improve the environment in King William Road. And because this will be  a welcome forerunner to the redevelopment of King William Road north of the Tavern.

Council has been looking for some time now to reinvest in King William Road just north of the Tavern. We are currently redeveloping Goodwood Road in similar fashion. Businesses in both strips will benefit from any such redevelopment. In these cases no business will be asked to put their hand in their pocket to assist in funding the redevelopment of our infrastructure.

At Goodwood Road this means that businesses such as Gingers, Boulangerie, Goodwood Bakehouse, Two Sisters, the Capri will potentially benefit from the work we are currently doing. What about the businesses on King William Road north of the Tavern. How many of them will benefit? Should they be asked to contribute to those projects.

We should be thankful that the Hyde Park Tavern is prepared to undertake redevelopment of Council’s infrastructure. Such development makes for a thriving and more vibrant city. A thriving business district is an essential component of a desirable neighbourhood.

King William Road to Keep it’s Pavers

The Legacy of the State Government imposing on Local Government any informal meeting of Council being available to the public is on show this week with the storey about King William Road in the Eastern Courier and the subsequent media explosion.

The legislation requiring this has led to this week’s headlines about King William Road, headlines based on discussions in an informal gathering of Council that have no legal status. Headlines that have left our community believing we have made decisions contrary to our vision for King William Road.

King William Road

King William Road for pedestrians

Councillors and Senior Management discussed how the role out of our King William Road Master Plan is going. Because any informal gathering of council must now be open to the public this discussion was attended by our local press representative.

For those out there who believe the headlines and can’t understand why we would pull those pavers up and put asphalt down in its place don’t panic. We have made no such decision.

Your stress is State Government induced. By making all our meetings subject to public attendance we no longer can simply discuss an issue without people believing that the discussion is tantamount to a decision on our part.

Here is what happened.

Anyone who has frequented King William Road in the last two years would be aware we have trailed the use of parklets in the precinct. The first two have now been replaced with permanent kerb build outs allowing comfortable alfresco dining in two of the side streets.

This shows some receptivity by traders to modifying the King William Road environment between Park/Mitchell Streets and Arthur Street. Enough to suggest moving the master plan forward.

Administration advised during the discussion that with the need to consider repaving the street in the near future, moving the master planning forward was probably a good move. They did compare the cost of doing this by bitumen rather than pavers to assist us elected members understand what we are faced with.

We are likely to see later this year a report from Administration come to a full meeting of council. At that meeting I suggest we are likely to decide whether to pick up the pace of improving the road to make it more pedestrian friendly and therefore more of a destination sooner than our current program is doing.

A far cry from replacing our 30-year-old pavers with asphalt or bitumen.

If you are interested, you can view the 2014 master Plan draft here.

Transforming King William Road- where to from here.

In this blog I hope to answer the question Transforming King William Road- where to from here?

 

The need to transform King William Road was addressed in my last blog. In this blog I provide some insight into what is planned next. So…..Transforming King William Road- where to from here?

The parklets that were located in Opey Avenue and in Bloomsbury Street have been relocated as other businesses have indicated to Council  desire to have them in front of their businesses. Turning the street into a more people friendly environment is being appreciated.

The locations where there were will not revert back to the old days of a year or more ago. Use of the parklets has always been for a time limited period. These street intersections with King William Road however are about to be permanently transformed.

Opey AvenueBoth businesses who requested the original parklets are so impressed they want a permanent solution. In April work will commence on constructing kerb build outs at both Opey and Bloomsbury.

 

 

These build outs will benefit all businesses in that they will, we expect, attract people to stop and stay awhile at King William Road. They will be similar to what has already been constructed on the corner of Unley Road. Whilst built for safety reasons it is obvious by casual observation that this is a popular hang out for people shopping in our precinct.

The build outs will still allow two cars to travel through the intersection but it will be more pedestrian friendly in that:

it will be a raised area, at the same height as the adjacent footpaths.

bollards will be strategically located around  the corners

the area will be landscaped

protected seating will be provided

For your reference and knowing Transforming King William Road- where to from here the link below to our website will take you to the KWR document – page 48 describes the Side street intersections under the Curated Street Concept.
http://www.unley.sa.gov.au/webdata/resources/files/Att%201%20Item%201194%20FCM%2028%20July%202014.pdf

Transforming King William Road

Transforming King William Road has been high on Council’s agenda for some time now.

 

Respective Councils have recognised the need for transforming King William Road, many would argue Adelaide’s premier shopping strip, to make it relevant for the future. Relevancy for the future is ensuring it supports the ageing baby boomers and with that an increase in the number of people with physical disabilities. It requires evolving into the sort of precinct most likely to be adopted by the emerging Gen Ys.

Sorry Gen X but research shows that in 2017 you will have surpassed the boomers as the group with the most buying power. By 2020 you in turn will be surpassed by Gen Y.

Back to the boomers, we will need a shopping environment that will support our mobility concerns. We will need to navigate from one side of the road to the other, have ease of access to the shops. With the car being currently the most important means of moving people and with entrances to the shops being high steps this presents a significant challenge.

Gen Y on the other hand is a group looking for inner city living by preference to enjoy the cosmopolitan lifestyle. Their movement preference hierarchy we are being told is walking first, followed by cycling and then public transport in its varying forms. Cars will be (it is suggested) the least preferred means of moving people.

Meeting these needs and many others is a costly exercise and Council in acknowledging this has recognised that a gradual transportation is a sensible approach.

parkletSo we trialled the parklets with great success. These have proved very popular. They have been well utilised by consumers frequenting the King William Road shopping strip. These people are staying longer as a result and apparently are spending more while there as a result. Any negative from say the reduction in available car parks has been well and truly trumped.

So successful have they been that other traders want them on front of their premises. A far cry from only a few years ago when they would rue the loss of the car park in front of their shop.

So successful has this been that we are about to commence the next step in transforming King William Road. Please look out for my next blog for some detail on this.