Council has adopted its 2022/2023 Operational Plan, 2022-2026 Delivery Program and Financial Plans at its June Council meeting.
Combined, these documents provide a guide to Council’s operations and help the organisation meet community demands for services and infrastructure by maximising what it can achieve with its available resources.
Key priorities include:
- Maintaining community services at current service levels,
- Funding significant road renewal to address community concerns relating to deteriorating infrastructure, funded through a Special Rate Variation from July 2023,
- Supporting our community to prosper and grow by improving employment opportunities and improving livability,
- Undertaking detailed planning to address water and sewer needs in serviced communities,
- Improving the robustness of Council’s long term Asset Management Planning and Long-Term Financial Planning to ensure that a financially responsible approach is taken and to ensure Council continues to strengthen its financial position over the medium to longer term,
- Finalising the Federation Council Growth Strategy, and
- Delivering the $2.6m Corowa foreshore upgrade.
Under the proposed budget in year one, Council will complete $18M in capital projects, deliver $8.3M in road works, and $8.9M on our sewerage and water network.
In the Long-Term Financial Plan, Council adopted a scenario that provides a $48 million annual operating program and $18.6m capital program for 2022/23 and a $104m total capital program over the 10 years. It contains rate increases at 2.5% for 2022/23, followed by a special rate variation for four years from 2023/24 to 2026/27 being 19%, 17%, 14% & 10%.
The average proposed residential rate increases equate to weekly:
- 2022/23: $0.34
- 2023/24: $2.63.
- 2024/25: $2.80
- 2025/26: $2.70.
- 2026/27: $2.39.
The average proposed farmland rate increases equate to weekly:
- 2022/23: $1.69.
- 2023/24: $13.11.
- 2024/25: $13.96.
- 2025/26: $13.45.
- 2026/27: $10.95.
The Special Rate Variation increase proposed will be subject to an application to IPART and involve further community engagement opportunities for ratepayers.
In adopting the plans, Federation Council Mayor Patrick Bourke said the overall plans primary focus was to ensure Council services are sustainable into the future, while delivering on the many major projects outlined in the Community Strategic Plan.
“Council unanimously supported scenario one that was publicly exhibited as it will provide capacity for Council to address the asset management demands of existing infrastructure over an extended period of time and support Council to deliver its 45 services,” he said.
“Council’s budget, with the support of the Special Rate Variation will support an improvement on road renewal and maintenance and the delivery of our 45 service areas that residents expect. We welcome the engagement we have received not just today from the 200 residents that gathered at the Civic Centre prior to our meeting, but throughout our financial sustainability journey thus far.”
Mayor Bourke said Council embarked on its financial sustainability journey three years ago when CT Management were engaged to lead in the development of Federation Council’s Long Term Financial Plan. As part of this process, Council Staff also completed Business Service Plans on the 45 service areas of Council.
“Council has 45 services within its portfolio of services. Of these, 31 are customer focused (external) services and 14 support (internal) services,” he said.
“The intent of the Business Service Planning undertaken was to ensure the investment in services is targeted at the correct customer segment and is supporting achievement of the outcomes expressed in the Delivery Program and Operational Plan, including the related strategies. The business as usual approach was determined not financially sustainable. Council knew the status quo needed to be challenged to result in a change that would support the Federation Council LGA to not only grow and thrive into the future but sustain our current service delivery.”
Mayor Bourke said Council as a business has experienced rapid changes and growth since its creation, with both former Councils having historically low rate bases and disproportionate asset bases to population levels.
“These challenges include a road network of 2322 km of roads broken into 964 km of sealed roads and 1,358 km of gravel roads,” he said.
“Council also due to having 14 towns and villages, have a large amount of relatively low usage but high priority to the community, facilities, such as Halls, Courts and Ovals. These are spread across the towns and villages of Corowa, Howlong, Mulwala, Urana, Balldale, Boree Creek, Buraja-Lowesdale, Coreen, Daysdale, Morundah, Oaklands, Rand, Rennie and Savernake. Council also has varying service levels across each of these facilities.
Mayor Bourke said Council understands very clearly where their financial risks are, and now have a plan for the next 10 years to ensure the Council continues to provide a high level of services to the community.
“Our long term plan relies upon ensuring our services are efficient and that we plan for the maintenance of the existing assets,” he said.
“While the Merger Funding has delivered some excellent facilities for our community, we need to ensure we can afford to maintain and operate them and we can’t afford to keep buying new facilities without a revenue source to operate them.”
In closing, Mayor Bourke said that Council had some challenges to reach a point of sustainability into the future, and planning well for maintenance and operations of assets was critical.
“This budget presents a vision for the long-term and a strong starting point for us to continue to have conversations with our community about service expectations and subsequent costs associated with them,” he said.
“The time to act is now, no one wants to pay more in any situation in life, but for Council to move forward and address the many issues the community has been raising for years, this in my opinion has been proven to be the sensible road to follow. I note the majority of objections and those that attended the demonstration at the Civic Centre were rural ratepayers and I think that speaks volumes for the dissatisfaction within the rural community at present. I ask you all to continue to work with us, remain engaged and stay on the journey with us, so we can all be a part of the solution towards financial sustainability and building an organisation that meets the needs and expectations of our community within our financial capability. This is never an easy conversation to be having, but it is one that we cannot shy away from.”
Council would like to thank all residents who took the opportunity to provide their feedback and look forward to continued engagement.