Golf club loan ‘new territory’ for city council

The Port Lincoln City Council’s decision to loan the Port Lincoln Golf Club $575,00 may be considered controversial by some ratepayers.

The money is only a loan and the council is just facilitating the loan, which officially comes from from the Local Government Financing Authority, so ratepayers will not be out of pocket.

However if things go pear-shaped the council will be in the difficult position of potential having to sell the property to recover the debt.

Looking at the golf club’s figures – which council staff have done in detail – there seems to be little risk the club will not be able to make the repayments, based on net water cost savings of almost $60,000 a year, and have the loan paid off within the 10-year time frame.

However the loan itself is not the potentially controversial part.

When the council considered loaning the club the funds, it had two decisions to make and the first was whether or not councillors would support the principle of loaning money to an organisation outside of its council boundaries.

Despite the club’s name, its location is just outside the city council area in the Lower Eyre Peninsula District Council area.

The club did approach the district council first for a loan but the council’s condition of having guarantors was a deal-breaker for the club.

The decision to approach the city council made sense since the vast majority of the club’s members – 87 per cent – are city council ratepayers and Port Lincoln councillors recognised that.

The club’s representatives made a pertinent point when they highlighted the potential flow-on effects in terms of tourism and the city’s appeal as a retirement destination if the club had to resort to scrapes rather than greens, which was the reality if this water saving project could not be funded.

Even so, mayor Bruce Green has acknowledged the decision is “new territory” for the council and demonstrated the council was taking a broader view of the region.

The question some people may be asking is why the Port Lincoln Golf Club is not included in the City Council area to begin with.

Perhaps this could be another argument for a re-alignment of the boundary between the city and district councils.

But that is a whole other debate for another day.