Civic leaders vote 6-2 for multi-million-dollar project

In a strong majority vote, councillors adopted an “historic” proposal for a sport hub worth at least $21.7 million.

The decision came at a special meeting of Port Pirie Regional Council on Wednesday after seven years of debate about new amenities for sport.

Two councillors who voted against the proposal that was recommended by chief executive officer Andrew Johnson outlined extra costs of more than $2 million for the project.

Cr Neville Wilson and Cr Joe Paparella said there was $1 million in contingencies, $1 million in architects’ fees and thousands of dollars in costs for refits and the heritage grandstand upgrade.

But all other councillors – except Cr Darryl Johnson who excused himself because of conflict of interest – backed the dream for a 6-2 result.

Standing orders were suspended at the meeting for only the second or third time in 20 years to allow full debate.

After Cr Wilson and Cr Paparella spoke, Cr Dino Gadaleta said he wanted to be a “positive” voice among the elected members.

“It is the dynamic, visionary thinking for the city for the next 50 years,” he said of the project.

He said that with $10 million in federal and state grants, the council was putting in an amount representing about a “dollar-for-dollar” equivalent which was its standard for grant-funded ventures.

“We should build the lot … you cannot just chop off the head of the function centre … or the toddlers’ pool. You have to do both full-on,” he said.

“Why are we disputing the chief executive officer’s recommendation … I cannot see why we are being negative … for the sake of $2 or $3 million why are we procrastinating?

“Is it personal, is it domestic? Decide on the cost and figures and not on personalities.”

The council plans to borrow $14 million to help pay for the hub.

A tender for the project was approved behind closed doors with the information remaining secret for at least six months.

Mayor John Rohde said after the meeting that the decision had been “important”.

“It will be a long-term community asset. It was an important night for council and the community,” he said.

“There will be those who have their concerns, as with any project, but there is a lot of people out there who are happy the city is moving ahead.”

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