Public exhibition of Bega Valley Shire Council’s draft Delivery Program, Operational Plan and budget and draft Fees and Charges for the 2023-24 financial year has begun and can be accessed on Council’s website and libraries.
Acting CEO, Emily Harrison, said the gap between the increasing cost to maintain Council’s assets and deliver services, and the fixed amount of income collected, is widening.
“The cost to deliver services and maintain community assets continues to increase above the income Council receives each year,” Ms Harrison said.
“Council submitted a Special Rate Variation (SRV) to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) in February, which will be determined in mid-May.
“As we are required to adopt our Operational Plan and budget by June each year, we are exhibiting an Operational Plan that includes two versions of the 2023-24 budget.
“One version assumes that Council’s revenue will only increase by the 4.1% rate peg in the 2023-24 financial year.
“The other version assumes the SRV we applied for, which is a permanent increase to general rates of 24% in 2023-24 (inclusive of a 4.1% rate peg) and 19.6% in 2024-25 (inclusive of an assumed 2.5% rate peg), will be approved and applied in full. This results in a cumulative rate increase of 48.3% at the end of the 2024-25 financial year.
“As part of our submission to IPART and our commitment to the community, Council also committed to undertake further reviews of asset and service priorities to ensure future financial sustainability – this work is being prioritised in this Operational Plan.
“Councillors also agreed to conduct a workshop during the exhibition period to try to identify further expenditure reductions. This is in addition to a robust review of savings undertaken as part of the SRV application.
“Council will make a decision on the final budget allocations for the 2023-24 financial year in June, after our public consultation is completed and the determination on the SRV is received from IPART.”
Ms Harrison said Council is also proposing to increase its fees and charges, including access and usage charges, between 4.1% and 7.5% to reflect the increased costs in providing these services.
“This year we are also proposing to add several new fees and charges to our certification and compliance work, to better reflect the cost of providing these services, bring us into line with other similar councils and deter unauthorised building works,” Ms Harrison said.
“Several fees and charges were also removed, generally as a result of consolidating a range of existing fees and charges, and the Public Spaces (Unattended Property) Act 2021 has resulted in some adjustments to fees and charges.
“Importantly, Council will continue to carry out asset and service reviews, and be strategic in state and federal grant submissions so we can finish grant-funded projects and maintain and renew some of the key assets the community relies on and values including pools, buildings, roads and bridges.”
To provide feedback on the draft Delivery Program, Operational Plan and budget, and Fees and Charges, go to the Have Your Say page on Council’s website.
Copies of the documents are available on the Have Your Say page. Hard copies are also available for review at all Council libraries.
Feedback closes Wednesday 17 May.
Image: James Fennessy – East Coast Radio