Draft budget on exhibition

May 24, 2017

Federation Council’s draft budget for 2017/18 will be on public exhibition for 28 days, from this Saturday, May 27 to Friday, June 23.

It includes a 1.5% increase in general rate income for former Urana Shire properties, in accordance with NSW Government rate pegging.

The former Corowa Shire had an existing rate variation in place which was approved by IPART (Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal). This allowed for a 7% increase in general rates for properties until the end of 2017/18.

New property valuations, however, apply from July 1 which will mean differing rate increases for properties throughout the former Corowa Shire.

As examples, former Corowa Shire Council farmland valuations have increased 14.5% on average. Residential and Business valuations have minimal change of 3.9% average.

Former Urana Shire farmland valuations have increased 3% on average, business up 4.5% on average while residential has declined by an average of 15.1%.

Federation Council received the property 2016 valuations and is required to use these to levy the 2017/18 rates.

“Farmers have benefitted by an average of 25 per cent increases in property values and average farm rates will increase approximately 15 per cent in the former Corowa Shire,” council’s General Manager Chris Gillard said.

“Residential rates will increase less than 5 per cent on average.”

Rate notices will include the Fire and Emergency Services Levy, as recently explained directly to households by council.

Generally, throughout Federation Council area, fees and charges will increase by 1.5%.

Federation Council documents to be exhibited for the 28- day period will include:

* a list of the principal activities to be undertaken by council, together with objectives, strategies and performance measures for each activity

*  a rating structure for the year 2017/18 to be effective from July 1, 2017

* a full listing of fee and charges for 2017/18

* a detailed statement of the proposed estimates of income and expenditure for the period 2017-2020 together with a statement of the proposed budgets for those years

* a 10-year Financial Plan.

A $14,929,434 capital works program is proposed. A General Fund Operating Surplus for 2017/18 as at June 30, 2018 is predicted to be $1,062,555 (before capital grants and contributions).

The budget details do not include the additional funds provided at the time of the merger of $15 million Stronger Community Fund.

“The $15 million is not part of the budget - it is being treated separately to clearly let you know where that money will be expended,” Federation Council Administrator Mike Eden said.

“Ten million dollars will be allocated to 54 projects across council. With the $5 million to fund the cost of amalgamation, significant funds will remain unspent for the new council (council elections in September) to decide.”

Maintenance of sealed and unsealed roads throughout Federation Council area scored poorly in a survey conducted by the NSW Government and was seen as a top priority.

Customer service, maintenance of public open spaces, water and sewerage services, waste services, libraries and arts all scored well and were seen as continuing priorities.

Mr Eden said a listing of all roadworks totalling $3.8 million proposed would be included in the exhibition documents.

He said road inspections had been undertaken by council staff to obtain first-hand knowledge. “There’s an emphasis on renewal, rather than new, and priority for road upgrades leading to and from grain silos,” the Administrator said.

Some 400 residents were surveyed to provide information on community views and satisfaction with council services. Three rounds of Stronger Communities consultation called for all community needs and wish list projects/services.

“This information has helped us to prepare the draft budget,” Mr Eden told a public meeting at Corowa Golf Club on Monday night.

The meeting was a community information session regarding the 2017/18 draft budget. Just 10 people, other than council executive and Local Representative Committee members, attended the session.

Mr Eden emphasised the need for community feedback. “If you have any suggestions, or think, for example that a different road should be prioritised, we’d welcome that information for consideration for the final budget,” he said.

Residents will have the opportunity to complete a feedback form available from council’s website and comments will be considered in the preparation of the final draft. Documents on exhibition will be available at all council agencies.

The final budget is planned to be adopted at council’s monthly meeting on Thursday, June 29, 2017.

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