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Plans adjusted to meet financial challenges

Bermagui, NSW.

Wednesday, 10 June, 2020

Balancing the financial pressures being felt across our community at this time have driven changes to a number of key Council plans.

The draft Operational Plan 2020-2021 is one of a number of documents that will remain on exhibition for an extended period following this week’s Council meeting.

“Adjustments made to the Long Term Financial Plan have brought about the need to seek the community's feedback on these updated documents,” said General Manager, Leanne Barnes.

“We are operating in an ever-evolving financial environment and we are looking to be responsive and create as clear a pathway forward as we can.”

Council is managing a projected deficit of $5.7 million for the 2021 year in the consolidated fund and a projected deficit of $7.9m for the 2021 year in the General Fund.

Council has been aware of the strains on its finances since 2016 and has been taking steps to reduce the deficit. This situation has escalated since the start of 2020 as a result of cost pressures created by the 2020 Bega Valley Bushfires and the economic impacts of COVID-19.

“Juggling the organisation’s own financial pressures with those being felt by local people, families and businesses has been at the centre of our deliberations in recent weeks,” said Mayor Sharon Tapscott.

“It’s a balance that I hope is evident in the revised documents; Council welcomes any input from the community.”

Council resolved on 27 May that the Long Term Financial Plan (LTFP) be amended and placed on public exhibition as a supporting document for the 20-21 Operational Plan and Budget with the following scenarios:

  1. That a Special Rate Variation (SRV) aimed at achieving the six pools strategy and support for protecting critical Council assets be factored in from 2023 for consideration. The LTFP that relates to any possible SRV will be considered post the 2021 election as a permanent increase in general rate income.
  2. Improved management of operational expenditure was also a focus with Council committing to reviewing services and reducing duplication, reducing asset impacts by rationalisation, and reducing costs to operational expenditure to ensure that combined with a projected targeted SRV in the General Fund, that from the 2023 financial year the projected operational deficit and cash position of the Council is significantly improved.
  3. Councillors also resolved to retain the rate peg (2.6%) increase over the water and sewer funds until a review of both funds is undertaken.

“These changes will result in a significant difference to the Long Term Financial Plan and draft Operational Plan previously exhibited,” Ms Barnes said.

“As such, it's only right that we start a new 28-day exhibition period for the amended documents from 10 June to 8 July. Feedback and submissions on the documents will be considered at the Council meeting on 22 July.

“Limiting the increase in water and sewer funds from 5% to 2.6% is an example of the balance we are trying to achieve.”

Cr Tapscott thanked all involved in getting to this point, “these discussions are never easy, trying to address competing demands in the short-term, with the long-term impacts front of mind.”

“A level of emotion and debate is natural but Councillors and senior staff come together with the shared goal of doing our best for the community.”

To view the documents head to www.begavalley.nsw.gov.au/haveyoursay

For more information, contact Council on (02) 6499 2222.

END

 


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