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Man with a plan

Tuesday, 4th September, 2012

John Groenendijk John Groenendijk

By Kurtis J Eichler

Outsourcing management of the Civic Centre and the Airport could be the secret to City Council's financial success, according to mayoral contender John Groenendijk.

Councillor Groenendijk says outsourcing "huge expenses" such as the Film Studio, Civic Centre, The Albert Kersten Mining and Mineral Museum, the Airport and the Visitors Information Centre to specialist operators could save a cash-strapped Council $4 million.

"It doesn't mean Council will sell these or lose control; ownership will be retained by Council but the operations and management will be outsourced," he said yesterday.

Through leasing fees it would be his hope that he could turn venues like the Civic Centre into viable ventures.

The Civic Centre costs $550,000 per annum to run but is only used 109 days a year, he said.

"So that means it sat empty and unused for 256 days."

If it was a commercial property it could be marketed for concerts and weddings and City Council could find alternative uses for it.

"You think about those numbers and that's not a viable property and a viable business to run," Clr Groenendijk said.

Of the other mayoral candidates - Wincen Cuy, Darriea Turley and Peter Black - Mr Groenendijk said he had the best financial plan.

"I think the other three mayor candidates have not come up with a plan of any sort other than continue with what we're doing right now or provide a lot of generalised motherhood statements."

Mr Black, a former mayor and state MP, has said Black Team is the only one with a platform that aims to get Council back on track but Mr
Groenendijk said his 69-year-old opponent had no plan.

"All I've heard from Peter Black is a lot of generalisations that we must reduce debt and the only plan I've heard is that of a razor gang and that scares me.

"It would scare a lot of staff and a lot of admin because a razor gang comes in to cut people out whether they are required or not.

"If they were to cut debt by simply restructuring staff, they would need to reduce their staff by 25 per cent to get the savings available through my plan."

Fast tracking repayments to slash interest on loans would mean more money being spent on the maintenance of footpaths, parks and gardens, he said.

"I think it's important to realise that Council is a business. "You have an income and you have a lot of expenses that need to be paid.

"The real problem is the income is capped and so logically you start to look at where those expenses are and how can we divest of those expenses."

Mr Groenendijk's costings were calculated by adding up the net cost after income of each of the five facilities.

He said that didn't include any potential revenue from the lessees.

A businessman himself, Mr Groenendijk said it wouldn't be hard to find people willing to take on the operation of the facilities.

"I think any commercial opportunity will be considered by an entrepreneur," he said.

"The sort of direction we need to take is to find entrepreneurs that are prepared to invest in Broken Hill."

But Mr Black rejected the charge that his means of reining in Council's debt wasn't supported by a plan.

He said he was the only candidate committed to not taking out a $1 million loan for the mine haulage road and to bringing down deficit budgets.

A finance committee - not a "razor gang" - would also help, he said.

"These people want to enhance the debt by borrowing another $1 million to help Perilya out and I won't stand for it.

"We've got the biggest business in town and we need to treat it like a big business.

"You'll only get rid of this debt if you've got someone there prepared to do it, and I've done it once and I'll do it again."

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