30 June 2021
Councillors adopted the Bega Valley Shire Council Operational Plan and Budget for the 2021-2022 financial year at today’s Council meeting.
The Operational Plan outlines what Council will do over the next 12 months to meet the needs of the community within the available funding sources and staffing levels.
Mayor Russell Fitzpatrick said the adopted Operational Plan seeks to balance Council’s business as usual work and priority projects with the need to continue to improve our financial position.
“Juggling community expectations with available funding is always a challenge, particularly for a shire so heavily impacted by natural disasters,” Cr Fitzpatrick said.
“The Operational Plan and Budget we adopted today includes a range of business as usual services—things like ensuring our road network is safe and accessible, providing clean water and managing our sewer services, waste management, maintaining and operating our libraries, community halls, swimming pools, sporting grounds and playgrounds, and supporting tourism and development across the shire.
“It also outlines a range of additional priorities for the next 12 months including a new inclusive playspace in Eden, development of an affordable housing strategy, the Bega and Pambula sporting complex projects, upgrading ten school crossings across the shire, expanding kerbside bin collection services to many rural properties, ongoing bushfire recovery environmental projects, and rebuilding the bushfire impacted Kiah and Wandella Halls.
“In addition to this, we will continue to support the needs of the community still recovering from the effects of compounding natural disasters.
“We will continue to advocate for funding to rebuild damaged public assets so they are more able to withstand disaster impacts in the future and build this approach into all of our asset work more broadly, and we’ll continue to advocate for upgrades to essential infrastructure such as power and telecommunications.”
While the draft operational plan and budget provided a balanced consolidated position overall, Council has since received a significant payment for the Financial Assistance Grant which wasn’t expected until next financial year. This, along with some amendments made during the public exhibition period, means that Council has adopted a $1.57 million consolidated deficit position for the 2021-2022 financial year.
“We’ve done a lot of work to improve our financial position over the last few years, but with the unexpected timing of this payment, as well as the fact that the 2% rate peg increase doesn’t even cover the increases in our overhead costs such as insurances and contracts, we have had to adopt a consolidated deficit position,” Cr Fitzpatrick said.
“We will continue to focus on improving our financial position over the coming months and years, and I’d like to thank the members of the public and staff who provided feedback on the draft plan.”
Councillors also adopted the permitted increase to Councillor and Mayoral remuneration for the 2021-2022 financial year, in line with the rates set by the Local Government Remuneration Tribunal. Importantly, this is the first time in three years that Council has adopted an increase for Councillor remuneration.
The adopted Operational Plan and Budget 2021-2022 can be found on Council’s website.