Budget preparation begins

Budget preparation begins

Significant rises in the official valuations of houses have been conveyed to Wattle Range Council as it begins to devise its budget for 2024//25.

A three-page document entitled “sensitive” from the Valuer-General was circulated at an open council workshop in Millicent on Tuesday.

A representative of The SE Voice was the sole occupant of the press desk and was given a copy of the correspondence from the Valuer-General by a senior council staff member.

However, within a few minutes, another senior council staff member asked for the Valuer-General correspondence to be handed back.

The SE Voice complied with this request and will not use that exact printed data in this report.

Although figures from the Valuer-General’s correspondence were being openly quoted by councillors and staff, The SE Voice has chosen not to do so.

Suffice to say, there has been a double digit rise in the residential valuations while single digits apply in the rural, vineyard and rural living sectors.

Deputy chief executive Paul Duka said the press had already reported on a rise in house prices in Millicent and he added that similar significant rises were evident at Penola and Beachport.

Mr Duka said the valuations were early estimates only and further data from the Valuer-General would be coming to Wattle Range Council in June.

On other budget matters, council chief executive Ben Gower said the State Government was looking to impose further costs on councils like Wattle Range which had school/community libraries.

The Penola High School library and its collection has been available for public use since the 1980s.

Mr Gower said the State Government had four options for the 25 school/community libraries in SA and all required an increased cash contribution from local government.

“We would be looking to pay a further $15,000-$20,000 to the Education Department for the Penola library,” Mr Gower said.

“The Local Government Association of South Australia believes it is a flawed process and will stall it.”

Meanwhile, the annual district bus tour for councillors and senior staff earmarked for March 18 was scrapped.

Deputy Mayor Councillor Peter Dunnicliff said it would be preferable to have a further workshop with staff in its place.

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