PROVIDING CLARITY AROUND RECENT HEADLINE IN THE EASTERN COURIER MESSENGER
From the office of Michael Hewitson AM, City of Unley Mayor.
“Road cost blows out to $15.5m” was the headline in last week’s Messenger. I wish to clarify several points.
The Council has never used a figure of $6m for the upgrade of King William Road. The Council’s budget for King William Road (prior to tenders being called) was just under $10m. Following the procurement process, a contract has been awarded for $11.993m. The increased cost takes into consideration the staging of the works, increased traffic management and undertaking of night works to accommodate the needs of our residents and businesses.
The Council has allowed for a total budget of $15.5m to cover the upgrade works, additional drainage works in conjunction with SA Water, project management fees and contingencies. It would be rather sad to have a burst old water-mains under our new road!
The figure of $6m quoted in the article may refer to the Council’s Roads Infrastructure Plan (2008) which estimated replacement of the pavers for the total length of King William Road at $6m in 2008 dollars. This estimate did NOT allow for the replacement of footpaths, kerb and water table and any drainage upgrades.
In terms of Council’s financial position, the forecast total borrowings at the end of 2018- 19 will be $7.9m, this equates to 18% of the total annual rate revenue ($49m). While our anticipated borrowings as at June 2020 will be $18.8m, it is important to note that Council has an operating surplus of $2.76m, which pays down debt.
As a comparison, Council’s debt in 2004 was $17.6m with an operating budget of $25.8m.
Large infrastructure asset projects such as King William Road and Brownhill Keswick Creek are managed in an inter-generational manner, i.e. by borrowings spread over years rather than burdening current ratepayers in the short term. Council is committed to ensuring its long-term financial sustainability and taking a financially responsible approach to the impact of debt on both current and future ratepayers.
The upgrade of King William Road comes after a thorough engagement process with traders and residents who had significant input into the design brief and what the new King William Road will look like.
Our Council voted unanimously to deliver and budget for the cost.
I am proud that the Unley Council will be able to deliver our community’s vision for this iconic main street.