THE Mount Gambier Community and Recreation Hub will cost $39.1m to construct and its operational costs will not lead to rate increases for residents, according to draft plans released late today by City Council.
A 25-metre indoor pool, children’s water play area, six regulation size multi-purpose courts for ball sports such as netball, basketball and soccer, and gym and fitness spaces are all catered for in the intermediate designs produced by Design Inc Co-op.
Market research company Market Solutions has been appointed to conduct a survey of over 19,000 electors within the city to gauge community support for or against the proposed facility, with the postal survey expected to start in late November.
The latest developments follow months of work carried out by the community and external specialists, including detailed financial modelling which considered operating models and grant income.
Council chief executive officer Mark McShane said proactive engagement with a range of community groups and service clubs, including the Community Reference Group, had provided valuable input into the possible uses of the facility and the overall design and functionality.
“As a result, council feels certain that the proposed facility will be a major focal point for recreation, community activities, functions and sport within the city,” Mr McShane said.
“As part of the capital costs totaling $39.1m, council will also carry out a range of work within existing capital infrastructure budgets during the construction period of about two years,” he said.
“This work is estimated to cost approximately $1.4m and would include site preparation, managing utility connections, landscaping, paving, car park surfacing, street furniture and landscaping.”
The existing 50-metre pool and grass surrounds would be retained under the proposed plan, with additional amenities including a crèche, café, and office space for sporting groups and allied health, disability access and storage areas.
Council also aims to establish a youth program on-site.
Cost estimator Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB) valued the building cost at $37.7m – not taking into account council’s $1.4m preparation work spend – and includes contingency, furniture fittings and equipment, professional fees and escalation.
“The intermediate designs will form part of the submission should the project proceed from the Expression of Interest (EOI) to a full federal grant application,” Mr McShane said.
“If the project is funded, further engagement will occur with the CRG, other stakeholders, the community and council to further refine the concepts and features.”
Since April 2018, council has worked towards developing concept plans for the proposed community facility and conducted financial analysis and cost estimates to support a full business case submission for $20m under the Federal Government Regional Growth Fund.
Council’s EOI is still being considered at federal level.
The Local Government body has vowed to continue lobbying the State Government to contribute at least $10m as a vital portion of funding for the construction of the hub.
Council will also provide up to $10m, or approximately 25pc of the project cost to support the development.
“Securing up to $30m in funding is challenging, requiring support and collaboration between the three tiers of government,” Mr McShane said.
“Council sincerely thanks Member for Barker Tony Pasin for his considerable ongoing support for the Regional Growth Fund application and Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell at the State Government level.”
Financial analyst BRM Holdich was engaged to undertake detailed financial analysis of the proposed community facility and model an operational budget, which included reviewing council’s Long Term Financial Plan, financing options and rating projections.
“Within the projections of the proposed operating model, based on receiving $30m in funds from the federal and state governments, council does not foresee that rate rises will be required to specifically fund the operation of the proposed facility.
“Accounting for income and expenses, council will need to budget approximately $1.4m annually to operate the facility.
“The significant lead time to deliver the project by late 2021 enables council to build its financial position and budget to be able to fund both council’s capital contributions and annual operating costs.”
Next month’s postal survey will use a unique bar coded voting slip detailing one question requiring a yes or no response to be inserted into a reply paid envelope and returned.
The survey, distributed in late November, will be open for two and a half weeks, closing December 21.
Voting slips will be mechanically processed and council expects to receive the results by mid-January 2019.