Budget plans: council touts zero percent rate increase

Mayor Brett Benbow said the 2020/2021 budget focusses on progress towards the long-term sustainability of councils financial performance and position.
Mayor Brett Benbow said the 2020/2021 budget focusses on progress towards the long-term sustainability of councils financial performance and position.

Ratepayers can breathe a sigh of relief, with Port Augusta City Council revealing a zero percent rate revenue increase in the latest budget plans.

Council is preparing to adopt the 2020/2021 Annual Business Plan and Budget following a tough start to the year.

Mayor Brett Benbow said the budget reflects the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the community.

While the average increase across all ratepayers will be zero per cent, individual ratepayers may pay more or less than 2019/2020 depending on the movement in property's site values. The average residential general rates will rise from $9 to $1,726

"The Council was conscious of cost of living pressures in households, particularly in the current environment due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and confident this Budget strikes the right balance between addressing community needs and affordability," Mr Benbow said.

"Over the coming 12 months we are going to focus on priority actions outlined in Council's Strategic Directions 2019-2029 and 4 year Priority Action Plan."

Council borrowings are on a downward trend.

Council borrowings are on a downward trend.

Reducing the debt has been a prominent feature of budget plans over the years, with the latest being no exception.

The new budget plan provides for an operating deficit of $2,682,000, down by $519,400 from the previous year.

While the reduction won't come from rate increases, reducing the operating expenditure means more service reviews and less financial support for various community events.

Council has allocated funding of $96,100 for events to be held during the 2020/2021 financial year, compared to the $174,000 allocated last year.

Funding of events is also dependent on Covid-19 restrictions.

"Over the coming 12 months we are going to focus on priority actions outlined in Council's Strategic Directions 2019-2029 and 4 year Priority Action Plan," Mayor Benbow said.

"We are also going to continue our focus on asset renewal with capital expenditure of over $4.8m outlined in the budget.

"These projects will drive local employment, improve community wellbeing, and contribute to the development of infrastructure which will be enjoyed by future generations."

Council will need to shave at least $205,000 per year from their operating deficit for the next 8 years to follow through with plans to break even by 2028.

In a fairly unsurprising budget, $400,000 has been allocated to extending the Eastside Foreshore Walking Trail to Simms Street - based on 50 per cent external funding.

Mayor Benbow said that community input plays an important part in the Annual Business Plan and Budget process.

"Local Government is the only sector of Government which consults with its communities on its budgets," Mr Benbow said.

"This year we received 14 submissions through our website and in writing, and I would like to acknowledge everyone who took the time to provide input into our Budget process.

"We want our community to continue to provide feedback, so we can ensure the services and projects we deliver are in line with their needs and aspirations."

Key points:

  • Council's total operating revenue for the coming year will be $30,644,900 with 65.96 per cent derived from rates, 20.29 per cent from federal and state grants and the balance from other sources such as user charges and statutory charges
  • Increase in Kerbside Waste Collection and Recycling Service Charge to $264 per service ($228 in 2019/20). Coastal Homes collection is $132 per service ($114 in 2019/20)
  • Increase in Community Wastewater Management Scheme (Effluent Drainage Schemes) Service Charge to $477 per property unit ($463 in 2019/20)
  • Increase in the Regional Landscape Levy (previously known as Natural Resource Management (NRM) Levy) collected on behalf of the State Government to $38.50 ($38 in 2019/20)
  • $4,805,200 to be spent on Capital expenditure for the 2020/2021 financial year