In 2009, Shellharbour City Council administrator David Jesson was forced to make some ‘‘tough decisions’’ in the wake of the global financial crisis.
The council had suffered a $2.5 million loss on investments in the 2008-09 financial year and some unpopular decisions were made that had implications for the city’s sporting clubs, such as the introduction of fees to the city’s cold water swimming pools.
Adults would pay $2 and children $1 to swim in the previously free pools at Warilla, Oak Flats and Albion Park.
Soon after, Shellharbour sports clubs were asked by Mr Jesson to pay an extra $20 per senior player and $10 per junior player per season in an attempt to recoup around $150,000 of the estimated $655,000 it cost to maintain sports fields in the city.
Fast forward five years to 2014 and the interest on council’s investments is flowing freely.
For the current financial year the council initially estimated it would receive $2.32 million for interest on investments, a figure it surpassed in March.
Last financial year the original budget for interest on investments to was $2.76 million. In the end a total of $3.65 million was accrued.
An ‘‘internal restriction for interest on investments’’, with a ceiling of $1.7 million to insulate the council in ‘‘bad years’’, is now full and overflowing.
At the same time, rates will rise by 9 per cent next year as part of a special rate variation to fund asset renewal works.
The variation will see rates increase another 10 per cent in 2015-16 and 2016-17.
Despite all this the sports fees continue to rise.
In the current budget the cold pool fees will hit $4 for adults and $2 for children, while the levy on players will now increase to $25 for adults and $14 for children.
As the treasurer for Shellharbour City Sharks Rugby League Football Club, Shellharbour City Cricket Club and the South Coast District Cricket Association, Mark Jones knows what impact council fees can have on a sporting club.
Mr Jones said doubling the wet weather bond to $1000 would be hard for sports clubs to pay at the start of the season.
He said the fees were tough for cricket clubs which traditionally didn’t attract the sponsorship levels of winter sports.
Adding to the frustration for cricket clubs is that unlike their Wollongong counterparts, Shellharbour clubs are still responsible for curating wickets.
The council’s draft budget is on public exhibition until June 2.