Bega Valley Shire Council are a step closer to raising rates by 35%, from July next year.
Council has put its suite of financial and planning documents including its budget for the coming financial year and Long Term Financial Plan (LTFP) on exhibition.
Mayor Russell Fitzpatrick said Council is projecting a $6.6 million deficit across our consolidated funds for the 2022-23 Financial Year.
“This is after we have reviewed all proposed expenditure carefully and removed costs that are not aligned with our short-term priorities. This ongoing deficit position is not sustainable,” Cr Fitzpatrick said.
“These documents set the strategic direction for Council for this term and beyond and include the detail of what Council can do over the next 12 months within our current resourcing and budget.
“More than 220 Operational Plan actions have been identified to support our community and an $81 million capital works program planned, including $45 million of this funded from grants, to improve our community assets.
“However, unless our financial position significantly improves over the longer term, the value of our cash and investments will continue to decline, services will continue to be reduced and assets will not be renewed in the timeframes the community expects.
“Our shire is one of the largest local government areas in coastal NSW based on land mass and we have more assets per capita than most other local government areas. With a small population, the revenue we raise through rates and charges is not enough to cover the costs of our operations.
Mayor Fitzpatrick said to deal with council's need to generate additional revenue, councillors have endorsed option Scenario 2 - in the Long Term Financial Plan 2023 to 2032 which is a 35% rate increase from July 2023 through a special rate veriation.
“We are about to start a very frank and honest conversation with the community about what this means. As the community can see in the Long Term Financial Plan, this will likely involve a special variation to increase our rates revenue in the future.
“It’s important to understand this increase, if approved, would be to the base rate only, not the total rates notice which for some residents also includes water, sewer and waste charges on top of the general rate component.
“It is also important to understand that a potential special rate variation would not be introduced until the 2023-24 financial year, if at all, and further extensive consultation with the community will be undertaken before Council makes a decision.
“These financial challenges are not unique to the Bega Valley. Many councils across NSW are in the same position, with rate peg increases that don’t keep up with increasing costs.”
The draft Community Strategic Plan 2042, Draft Delivery Program 2022-25 and Operational Plan 2022-23, draft Resourcing Strategy 2022-25 and draft Fees and Charges 2022-23 are on public exhibition from 4 May to 1 June.
Links to the documents are on Council’s website and hardcopies can be viewed at Council’s Zingel Place office and at Council libraries in Bermagui, Bega, Tura Marrang and Eden.
Councillors and senior Council staff will also be at local markets and community days this month to gather feedback on these future plans.
Submissions to draft documents are invited and all submissions received during the exhibition period will be considered by Council before the documents are adopted.