Port Augusta Council Informal Gathering

NOT HAPPY: Some residents left only after eight minutes of Port Augusta City Council's Informal Gathering.

NOT HAPPY: Some residents left only after eight minutes of Port Augusta City Council's Informal Gathering.

After a heated start, the Port Augusta City Council’s Informal Gathering outlined steps to ease the pressure on ratepayers and make savings in the 2016/17 budget.

Around 65 concerned Port Augusta residents attended, forcing some to stand.

Some members of the public were outraged they weren’t able to answer questions and left within eight minutes.

For those who stayed, Council CEO John Banks and Council Director Community Services Anne O’Reilly presented to council options for rate rebates.

It was noted the state government’s Waste Management Levy imposed a cost of around $70,000 to the 2016/17 budget.

One proposed rebate provided would be to residential properties which constitute the principal rate of residence for the principal rate payer for the amount above an increase of $675 for 2016/17.

This had a cost of the council’s 2016/17 budget of around $77,000, with the waste levy making a total of $150,000 of savings required.

This means saving 1 percent of the 2016/17 budget and Mr Banks said it may come from community programs.

Mr Banks stated if the rate payers association request of rate rise to be anticipated at 1.9 percent for 2017/18, $300,000 worth of savings need to be found for the 2017/18 council budget

He dismissed claims of cutting from the council’s operation costs, stating even a 10 percent cut to the $2.5 million operation costs wouldn’t cover the required amount.

The next step would be classifying services in three categories – services the council is legally obliged to perform, its core services such as asset maintenance and discretionary services such as community programs.

Discretionary services include art programs, animal control and public health initiatives.

From there the council would work on a ‘decision making matrix’.

This matrix will essentially work out what discretionary programs are required and which aren’t.

And while Mr Banks said larger discretionary programs should be considered ‘more’ than smaller programs, he said the difficult process requires an inclusive approach.

“I propose council and the community go through a process developing an evaluations process, understand it, contribute to it, and ask the hard questions,” he said.

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