City of Mount Gambier residents are invited to provide feedback on the 2020/2021 Draft Annual Business Plan and Budget as part of the community consultation process. The draft plan and budget was formally endorsed at the April meeting of Council.
The draft budget supports the strategies, initiatives, services and projects aligned with the Council’s Long Term Financial Plan and Asset Management Plan and will align with the draft Strategic Plan 2020-2024, which is also currently open for community feedback.
The draft budget outlines a total of $34.5 million operating expenditure, including depreciation of $7.4 million and total capital expenditure of $37.5 million on the delivery of services and programs, maintenance of assets and development of new or upgraded assets, including a provision of $26.8 million towards the Community and Recreation Hub.
The delivery of services such as the Library, Mount Gambier Visitor Centre, The Riddoch and Main Corner Complex, parks, gardens, infrastructure and asset maintenance, waste collection and disposal continue to represent significant components of Council’s budget, with the forecasted recovery from COVID-19 and the Community and Recreation Hub adding additional complexities.
CEO Andrew Meddle said that while COVID-19 is presenting obvious challenges to setting the Council budget, the process must continue in line with timeframes set out in the Local Government Act but will be a “fluid document”.
“The Local Government Act specifies the date by which councils must adopt a budget however given the work Council are currently undertaking to identify community needs in response to COVID-19 the budget will be continually updated and managed through the quarterly budget review process to ensure a responsible balance,” Mr Meddle said.
“It is difficult to accurately forecast in the current circumstances and so the budget has been developed to the best of our ability and with the information currently available to us.”
In developing the 2020/2021 Annual Business Plan and Budget, Council identified pressures, challenges and potential impacts on the budget and performance.
Multiple projects and measures, including a rates freeze, a fees and charges freeze and a multi-million dollar COVID-19 stimulus and recovery fund allocation in additional to operational and capital expenditure are among the key budget influences for the 2020/2021 financial year.
“Overall rate revenue will be fixed at 2019/2020 levels in line with the ‘Our City, Our Response’ COVID-19 strategy,” Mr Meddle said.
“The budget does not include a percentage rate increase, however ratepayers could potentially see a difference in their rates due to other factors such as the growth benefit as part of rates or changes to property values.”
“Council acknowledge that businesses, individuals and community organisations are struggling as a result of the pandemic and have elected to allocate a significant portion of the budget towards stimulus activities and opportunities that may present in the future, but for which it is too early to clearly identify.”
The draft budget also includes a capital works program valued at more than $10 million.
“The annual works program will be focussed on key infrastructure projects and maintenance around the city that will provide a much needed boost to the local economy through engaging local contractors,” Mr Meddle said.
Other key influences include:
- Mount Gambier Community and Recreation Hub with 2020/2021 seeing significant resources committed to the establishment of governance, financial and construction processes for the oversight and management of the project,
- New strategies aligned to Council’s Draft 2020-2024 Strategic Plan,
- Increase in the EPA Solid Waste Levy, and
- Council’s focus on economic development and tourism opportunities.
Community feedback assists Council to determine the services, programs and projects it provides on an annual basis. The 2020/2021 Draft Annual Business Plan and Budget is available to download at www.haveyoursaymountgambier.com.au or can be requested in hard copy by phoning the Council office on 8721 2555.
“Council is committed to listening and responding to the ideas and feedback of the community and endeavours to provide convenient means for individuals to share their views on the draft document,” Mr Meddle said.
The community is invited to provide feedback:
- Online at www.haveyoursaymountgambier.com.au