Sunday, June 23, 2024

Jetties funding fails to float LGASA boat

The Local Government Association of South Australia (LGASA) has welcomed a $5 million annual cash injection announced in the State Budget for coastal councils leasing State Government-owned jetties, but warns it may not be enough to prevent the deterioration of the assets.

LGASA President, Kimba District Council Mayor, Dean Johnson said the budget announcement followed consistent advocacy by the Association to highlight the financial strain placed on councils by the current maintenance model.

“We appreciate the State Government recognising the ongoing funding needs – however the scale of the financial requirements makes it clear that federal assistance would also be highly beneficial,” said President Johnson.

“The harsh marine conditions that jetties endure, particularly during major storms, make their maintenance a challenging and expensive endeavour, especially for smaller regional councils.

“We’ve seen the heartache that towns like Tumby Bay have experienced when they’ve needed to close the jetty due to a lack of funding for structural issues – the problem shouldn’t just rest on the shoulders of the local community, it needs a statewide solution.

“While Tumby Bay jetty has recently opened, they need $11 million to replace the jetty as part of a longer-term solution, and other regional jetties need significant rebuilds too – far beyond just maintenance – for example Edithburgh jetty on the Yorke Peninsula needs around $16 million to renovate it, Ardrossan will need $20 million soon.”

The Association President likened the State Government $5 million allocation per year to “using a bucket to bail out a sinking ship”.

“We’re delaying inevitable closures and are unlikely to fix the underlying issues,” he said.

To support a sustainable funding model for long-term asset management, the Association is calling on the SA Government to work with councils to review the existing jetties program, secure Federal funding, and release the Jetties Strategic Plan.

“Jetties are a vital asset for our visitor economy, community wellbeing and recreational activities in coastal communities, which is why councils spend millions each year on maintenance,” President Johnson said.

“We’d like to work on conditions of the existing state jetties program as the complex terms, extended maintenance commitments and lease arrangements imposed by the new program have deterred many councils from applying.

“We also urge the government to collaborate with councils and release the statewide Jetties Strategic Plan.

“The strategic plan was promised in 2019 and developed through substantial input from Mayors and CEOs during public consultation, remains unpublished.

“If the plan includes an independent condition audit of all jetties across the state, lease terms and recommendations on an equitable funding model, let’s use that as a starting point for a discussion on how the future program can best work.

“Having access to a statewide audit will help us better understand the full cost to upgrade and repair infrastructure, rather than continuing to maintain at a minimum standard based on how far council budgets can stretch.

“The LGA looks forward to working with Minister Koutsantonis on the funding model to ensure these much-loved community icons are returned to a condition that all South Australians can enjoy for generations.”

In South Australia, the State Government owns 75 jetties, 36 of which are leased to local councils for day-to-day maintenance. The Association says several jetties, built over 100 years ago and nearing the end of their lifespan, face expiring leases which could result in their return to the state.

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