Council has endorsed its draft 2021/2022 Operational Plan, 2018-2022 Delivery Program and Financial Plans at a special meeting on Tuesday, 4 May.
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.
In endorsing 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 is pleased to adopt, and in turn present for community feedback its draft 2021/2022 Operational Plan, 2018-2022 Delivery Program and Financial Plans,” Mayor Bourke said.
“Under the proposed budget Council will complete $16M in capital projects. We will continue to deliver $6.5M in road works, and $5.8M on our sewerage and water network.”
Mayor Bourke said Council’s budget is delivering on the improvement to roads and the community facilities that the community expressed their requests for in the development of the Community Strategic Plan – Our Community Our Opportunity, developed under extensive community consultation in 2017.
“Since the formation of Federation Council in 2016, Council has worked extensively to deliver a range of new community infrastructure projects, as well as complete a monumental number of internal system upgrades and projects to provide a strong foundation for the new Council moving forward,” he said.
“Council as a result of the $10 million dollar Stronger Communities Fund (merger funds) as well as many other grants since then including from the Stronger County Communities Grant Program, COVID Stimulus, Drought Funding and other grants, has invested in many new, and or upgraded community assets right across the Council region. These include Skate Parks, Tennis and Netball Courts, Boat Ramps, extensive playgrounds, a new $10.5 million dollar year round pool in Corowa, additions to and the list goes on. This is also enhancing the areas reputation for liveability greatly. Council has also undertaken significant investment into its roads and related infrastructure network, however there remains a significant challenge in managing these assets with current revenue levels.”
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.
“Council is continually working on initiatives and strategies focused on improving the long-term sustainability of the Council. Key to this is the delivery of the recommendations and action plans developed through the merger-funded Asset Management and Long Term Financial Planning Services Model – completed in the 2019/20 financial year. The objective of this project was to integrate Council’s asset management planning and whole-of-life costings into service costings to enable more robust long term financial planning to be undertaken. This work is continuing.”
Mayor Bourke said Council understands very clearly where their financial risks are, and 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. Over the next 12 months Council is committed to engaging with the community to discuss an array of options on how Council increases its revenue to meet community expectations.”
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 have conversations with our community about service expectations and subsequent costs associated with them,” he said.
“Community feedback has been consistently positive in respect to the investment made by the NSW Government and Federation Council since the merger, displaying to Council our communities desires to continue to further invest in the area to improve the liveability and provide economic stimulus to the region through the creation and ongoing maintenance of such assets. Council is committed to working with the community to sustain this type of growth for the betterment of Council’s communities into the future, with a strong focus on how to continue funding the creation and ongoing asset life cost of our growing asset base and services.”