Council endorses Operational Plan, Delivery Program and Financial Plan

Published on 30 June 2020

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Council has endorsed its draft 2020/2021 Operational Plan, 2018-2021 Delivery Program and Financial Plans at a special meeting on 29 June.

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.

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, while delivering on the many major projects outlined in the Community Strategic Plan.

“Council is pleased to adopt, and in turn present for community feedback its draft 2020/2021 Operational Plan, 2018-2021 Delivery Program and Financial Plans,” Mayor Bourke said.

“Under the proposed budget Council will complete $21.2M in capital projects. That includes $1.6M to complete the Corowa Swimming Pool, $0.3M for the Urana Aquatic Centre, $1.9M for the new Howlong All Abilities Playground, $0.9M in addressing draining problems and $1.4M to complete the Mulwala Industrial Estate. We will continue to deliver $8.4M in road works, $1.3M on our sewerage network and $1.7M on the water network.”

Mayor Bourke said Council’s budget is delivering on the improvement to roads and the community facilities that the community expressed their requests for in the development of the Community Strategic Plan – Our Community Our Opportunity, developed under extensive community consultation in 2017.

“Since the formation of Federation Council in 2016, Council has worked extensively to deliver a range of new community infrastructure projects, as well as complete a monumental number of internal system upgrades and projects to provide a strong foundation for the new Council moving forward,” he said.

“The NSW Government allocated a $10M Stronger Communities Fund to the newly formed Federation Council. The purpose of the funding was to kick start the delivery of projects that improve community infrastructure and services. Given the NSW Government Stronger Communities Fund provided Council with a once off cash injection to create new community infrastructure projects and set a strong foundation for the betterment of Council and its communities, Council set to undertake a comprehensive review of its financial position through the development of the Long Term Financial Plan to identify funding strategies for the future.”

Mayor Bourke said both former councils had long standing infrastructure backlogs and community priorities already identified but not funded, and this funding program provided a much needed opportunity to help facilitate the delivery of these important projects.

 “With the opening of new community facilities through this time, increased operating and maintenance expenditure required to support usage and renewal of the facilities into the future poses a challenge given the level of Council’s existing revenue streams. Council engaged CT Management Group, the leading provider in local government service planning, to review our services and provide us with a financial plan to ensure our services are sustainable into the future.”

Mayor Bourke said Council understands very clearly where their financial risks are, and have a plan for the next 10 years to ensure the Council continues to provide a high level of services to the community.

“Our long term plan relies upon ensuring our services are efficient and that we plan for the maintenance of the existing assets,” he said.

“While the Merger Funding has delivered some excellent facilities for our community, we need to ensure we can afford to maintain and operate them and we can’t afford to keep buying new facilities without a revenue source to operate them. We are very reliant upon grants and because we don’t have the ability like a city or large urban Council to increase revenues through carparking fees or by gaining large revenues through our commercial interests we rely upon Federal and State Governments to provide grants to renew the infrastructure. That is a risk, particularly if the grants stop, or even if the indexation stops. We are proudly one of the lowest rating councils in NSW, but that may have to change if other levels of Government pull back on their funding.”

Mayor Bourke said importantly, Council were also very aware that existing assets are deteriorating.

“To ensure that other Council-owned assets such as water, sewerage and community facilities are properly maintained we have set aside capital and maintenance budgets to address our existing infrastructure,” he said.

“We are planning to send CCTV down our pipes to target out maintenance on failing infrastructure, to scour the pipes to provide cleaner water and we will be ensuring that our assets provide what our levels of service determine. Our community assets will be inspected and our maintenance crews will be completing scheduled maintenance as a priority. We need to now focus on maintaining well the assets we already have.”

The proposed budget sees general residential rates increase by an average of 2.6% in 2020/21, which Mayor Bourke said is in line with the cost increases Council has faced over the last year.

“Ratepayers will notice some considerable variance from the 2.6% increase due to the recent revaluation of properties across the shire, particularly in the farmland where there has been large variations in the land valuations,” he said.

“Council will be seeking an application for a Special Rate Variation to take effect in the 2021/22 financial year. This is required to cover the operating and maintenance costs of the many new infrastructure projects delivered, or currently being delivered across the Council area. While we are working hard on the most cost efficient operation of new assets like the Corowa Aquatic Centre, the cost of running such excellent community facilities needs to be covered to ensure Council can sustain its position as a viable and growing Council into the future. The Special Rate Variation will cover the additional costs of the Corowa Aquatic Centre, and other infrastructure projects which will be outlined in the detailed community engagement Council will be doing in preparation for the application with the State Government throughout the course of the next year.”

In closing, Mayor Bourke said that Council had some challenges to reach a point of sustainability into the future, and planning well for maintenance and operations of assets was critical.

“This budget delivers stability for the present and the vision for the long-term. It will ensure that we deliver the needs of the community in a responsible way, whilst building for a prosperous future. Community feedback has been consistently positive in respect to the investment made by the NSW Government and Federation Council since the merger of the former Corowa and Urana Shires, 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 sustain this type of growth for the betterment of Council’s communities into the future.” 

View the suite of documents, and provide your feedback online today 

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