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Exclusive parking spots the ticket for cash-strapped council

Local

Allowing private advertising on council-owned buildings and charging people for exclusive use of on-street parking bays are new revenue-generating ideas being flagged by the Adelaide City Council.

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The suggestions were made at a city council committee meeting last night, during which staffers warned new revenue streams were needed if the council continued to freeze the rate in the dollar for the 2020-21 financial year.

“The rate in the dollar has not increased since 2014, with council reliant on the growth of property values and new developments and additions to fund our operations, infrastructure and projects, and the emerging priorities in recent years,” the council’s associate director of finance, Tracie Dawber, said.

Dawber said a recent meeting of council managers and directors had raised “new ideas and some innovative thinking” about how the council could broaden its revenue streams.

She said staffers had flagged “maximising our on-street parking revenue” as one potential option, including introducing “the exclusive use of parking bays via new parking permits” and rescinding the council’s courtesy letter.

Council staff also suggested allowing third-party companies to advertise on council assets, including buildings, Stobie poles and street lights.

The proposal was supported by area councillor Franz Knoll, who said the council needed to “get a bit more inventive” with its revenue streams.

“Some of that may include advertising… because it’s about us as a business and we are still a business that can deliver things that will enhance the city,” he said.

“We’ve got to be a bit more broad in our thinking than keeping it just as this fundamental old-fashioned way of raising some dollars.”

But fellow area councillor Robert Simms likened the proposal to the backlash surrounding the New South Wales Government’s decision last year to allow the Everest horse race to advertise on the sails of the Sydney Opera House.

“That’s not something that sits well with me,” he said.

“I think public space is public space – it’s got to be for the good of the community – and when you start privatising or commercialising that space and turning it into advertising opportunities I think that moves against the spirit of the public realm.”

It comes after the local government sector resists a move by Telstra to install new pay booths with expanded 75-inch LCD screens for advertising on city streets.

Central ward councillor Houssam Abiad said as Telstra and bus shelter companies were already collecting revenue from digital advertising, the council should do the same.

“I think there’s an opportunity for us to flick a switch and colour the city,” he said.

“I’m not just talking about us marketing ourselves and other businesses, but also marketing city events and businesses.”

The council will continue discussing its 2020-21 budget in the new year.

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