Bernie Wood Turf finance improving
Bernie Wood Turf is proving less of a headache for Porirua City Council than previously thought.
Porirua City councillors were told last week that the $66,000 annual operating budget for the $1.9 million artificial turf in Ascot Park has been offset by $61,000 in revenue.
Ratepayers took over the turf last July, after the trust administering it declared it would be unable to repay its $251,000 debt to Porirua City Council.
The trust borrowed $197,000 from the council via the Shared Responsibility Scheme, but penalty interest and non-payments added $54,000 to the initial loan. The business case presented to the council in 2012 was described last year as faulty.
The council had divided the turf into six distinct booking areas, so a club did not need to hire the entire field, especially at peak times.
A report last week said the facility had been integrated into the council’s booking system, Downer had been contracted to maintain it, and council staff would be setting up a remote system to control the lights.
The car park in front of the turf is to be upgraded shortly.
It had been hoped a member of the suburb’s residents association would oversee the locking and unlocking of the ground, but that had not eventuated, so a council employee does it.
Councillor Ken Douglas said the signs were positive, considering the rocky start to the turf’s existence.
A hard lesson had been learnt that the council should never endure again, he said.
Douglas wanted more ‘‘refinement’’ around bookings, asking that council officers look into deposits from sports clubs and users, rather than lump payments at the end of the season.
The council has divided the turf into six distinct booking areas, so a club does not need to hire the entire field, especially at peak times. For the peak slot in winter, between 4pm and 6pm, it costs just $8.33 an hour to book a section of the turf.