Council maintains a number of sporting and recreation facilities, some of which derive income while others operate with considerable subsidy. I have been giving consideration for some time in separating the operations of those facilities and making them accountable in the first instance to a committee that operates independently of the Council. With the upgrade of Hensley Athletic Field nearing completion, the need to redress this oversight becomes more pressing.
With the generous grant by the Rudd Government to fund the redevelopment of Hensley Athletic Field, Council needed to devise a mechanism that sufficient revenue could be obtained from its operation to ensure that Council was never in a position again where Hensley Athletic Field was on the road to closure because of the deterioration of the track and a lack of funds available from government for necessary upgrades. To date, Council spends just in terms of maintenance for Hensley about $200,000 a year. It receives revenue of about $70,000 a year, $30,000 from athletics, and $40,000 from soccer.
Hensley Athletic Field was handed over to the council in the 1980’s when Randwick Botany Harriers went broke, and to put kindly, through maladministration. Since then the maintenance of the facility, that serves not just this city, but the region has been a huge drain on the people of this City.
Council has decided that the people of this city would not longer subsidise this regional facility and it must be administered in such a way as to recover not only the current funding shortfall, but needed also to establish a sinking fund to set aside at least facility another $100,000 a year, in order to fund the future replacement of the track. In order to achieve this objective council senior staff recommended the installation of a synthetic infield, as opposed to grass.
A football club wanting to hire Hensley for up to three days a week during the winter season for $115,000 a year for ten years indexed has already approached council. That amount is the amount of the yearly contribution to the sinking fund Council is endeavouring to achieve. However, even with that amount of money being offered, the Chairman of the Task Force has advised that nothing should be accepted at this stage. He advised Council needs to explore all avenues of possible income, including current users, and what levels of fees are appropriate. Council considered that to achieve all it aims, an independent Sports and Recreation Committee needed to be established to focus on management and usage of the facility.
Council decided in addition to the management of this new facility that council’s other facilities such as the swimming pool, squash courts, tennis courts and golf course should be managed by this independent committee whose function it will be to oversee all those facilities, to separate accounts for the operation of all of these facilities, to incorporates any capital costs, expenditure and depreciation. If there is to be any subsidy for any particular e facility then council will decide on behalf of the people of this city whether such subsidy is appropriate in an open and transparent way. The Sports and Recreation Committee will be required to set budgets and determine fees independently of council.
Council has appointed as Chairman of the committee the Chairman of the Hensley Task Force, Mr Sam Krslovic, who is a local resident, President of Sydney United Football Club and a former Vice President of Football New South Wales. He has considerable experience in managing stadiums in western Sydney. The Committee should also contain a Senior Council officer with considerable financial and administrative experience and for that purpose Council’s Deputy General Manager has been appointed to that committee. The users of the Hensley Athletic Field have been Randwick Botany Little Athletics and Sydney University Junior Soccer Club so Council appointed Mr Tony Vecellio OAM from the former and Mr Tom Adam from the latter. I have the highest regard for the President of South Sydney Junior Rugby League, who has considerable experience in managing not only junior sport but also a licensed club. Council has invited Mr Keith McCraw to be a member of the committee. Those appointments embrace the most experienced people who cover junior sport within this City. However, I am open to any suggestion of any other person who might add value both in relation to their financial and sports experience. Should anybody be interest they should contact the Council.