Draft Budget: HRCC responds to COVID-19 impact

Horsham Rural City Council’s 2020-21 Draft Budget responds to Coronavirus with business and community support measures totalling $1.148 million, while delivering a rate increase in line with the Ministerial rate cap and investing more than $16 million in capital works.

Council has placed the 2020-21 Draft Budget on public exhibition and is urging the community to view the proposal, get involved and have its say in the important process as to how funds are spent next year.

The Draft Budget proposes a two per cent rate rise and all of the $484,000 raised will go towards helping people recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Business and Community Assistance Program will be developed further to target the hardest hit areas of business and community as the impact of the Coronavirus response is realised.

Chief Executive Officer Sunil Bhalla said this year’s forecasted spending had to be cut by $2.397 million – a move necessary to continue HRCC’s long streak of debt-free budgets.

Despite this, service delivery is being maintained at existing levels, other than those services that have been closed due to COVID-19 and $1.148 million has been allocated for fee relief and assistance to businesses and the community in these challenging times.

“Council’s revenue has taken a huge hit, like our businesses, and we have responded with this proposed budget in the best way we can, without really knowing what the true extent of the impact on our community will be,” Mr Bhalla said.

“We have proposed a rate increase but we will spend it to help support businesses, particularly those in hospitality and tourism, and rebuild our community, including moving ahead with capital works where we can to boost our economy.

“The budget proposes to reduce service delivery costs by $1.695 million, initiatives by $190,000 and capital $512,000 to enable Council to deliver a responsible budget while supporting the community and covering expected lost revenue and increased costs resulting from the pandemic,” he said.

Council’s core services, roads and rubbish, again receive the most allocation. The capital program includes $3.845 million for rural roads reconstruction, $1.876 million to rebuild urban roads and waste management will cost $3.255 million.

The Draft Budget proposes $3.845 million for rural roads reconstruction.

Rural roads at Wail, Brimpaen and Jung are among those set to be upgraded while major footpath and road works will occur in several streets in Horsham North.

Among a long list of projects, funding has been allotted for the refurbishment of the Wesley Performing Arts Centre ($545,000 funded by the Wesley Committee), a skate park upgrade ($164,000) and footpaths and cycle ways ($429,000). The full list of works can be found on Council’s Community Map.

The Draft Budget will be on exhibition for 36 days and will be available online and a hard copy can be viewed by appointment.

Anyone wishing to make a submission on the proposed budget can do so in writing, addressed to Chief Executive Officer. People can also complete a submission online. Written and online submissions must be received before 5pm on Tuesday 7 July 2020.

Council will meet to formally consider the Draft Budget at its meeting on Monday, 27 July.

/Public Release. View in full here.