Council has endorsed a draft 2022-2026 Delivery Program and 2022/2023 Operational Plan and Resourcing Strategy at its May Council meeting on Monday, May 16.
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.
The Delivery Program and Annual Operational Plan sets out the;
- functions that Council is required to undertake,
- the services that Council has agreed to provide to residents and ratepayers,
- the strategic initiatives that Council is seeking to deliver in order to progress towards meeting the strategic objectives in the Community Strategic Plan.
The draft 2022-2026 Delivery Program and 2022-2023 Operational Plan now on public exhibition sets out clear priorities for Council over the next four years. 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 liveability,
- 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,
- Delivering the $2.6m Corowa foreshore upgrade,
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.
“Council is pleased to adopt, and in turn present for community feedback its draft 2022-2026 Delivery Program and 2022/2023 Operational Plan, and Resourcing Strategy,” Mayor Bourke said.
“Under the proposed budget Council will complete $18M in capital projects. We will deliver $8.2M in road works, bridges and footpath renewal and $8.9M on our sewerage and water network.”
In the Long Term Financial Plan, Council has 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%.
Mayor Bourke said this scenario would provide capacity for Council to address the asset management demands of existing infrastructure over an extended period of time and maintain similar levels of service to those currently delivered.
“This would enable Council to address ongoing concerns being raised within the community regarding Council’s local road network and other ageing infrastructure,” he said.
Mayor Bourke said Council’s budget will support an improvement on road renewal and maintenance and the community facilities that residents continue to express their desire for during community consultation and various other engagement opportunities.
“Council, with significant Commonwealth and NSW Government fundingsince 2016, has invested in many new and 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 enhancing the area’s reputation for liveability greatly. Council continues to invest into its roads and related infrastructure network within its existing financial capacity, however there remains a significant challenge in managing these assets with current revenue levels.”
Mayor Bourke said Council 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 as well as having 14 towns and villages spread across a vast geographic area,” he said.
. Prior to the creation of Federation Council, both councils had infrastructure backlogs, being $17,693,000 (Corowa Shire) and $3,433,000 (Urana Shire) as taken from the last financial statements from each Council.
Mayor Bourke said this backlog was due to low rate bases and historic issues of cost shifting from the State Government, and general underfunding from State and Federal Governments.
“Council has maintained very low general rate charges over many decades,” he said.
“This has been due to rate pegging, strong consideration towards the rural rate base and economic factors. Some significant achievements have been made by the Council given the limited rate revenue and the high level of infrastructure and service demands. To ensure a sustainable future Council is continually working on initiatives and strategies focused on improving the long-term sustainability of the Council.”
Mayor Bourke said Council understands very clearly where their financial risks are, and have a plan for the next 10 years to ensure Council continues to provide a high level of services to the community.
“Our long term plan relies upon ensuring our services are efficient, increasing the revenue of Council and extensively planning for the maintenance of our existing assets,” he said.
“This budget presents a vision for the long-term and further builds on our strong foundations for us to continue 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 ensure sustainability 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.”
To register your interest in attending an upcoming Draft Delivery Program and Budget Roadshow Sessions or to provide feedback on the draft suite of documents visit Council’s website.