City Council budget adopted

Ratepayers will pay 4.5% more on their rates after Mount Gambier City Council elected members voted in favour of its 2021/22 annual business plan and budget. On average, Mount Gambier residents will pay $1312 for rates per year, which includes council’s Waste Service Charge (WSC), a new item on rates notices for FY21 that will come at no cost to most ratepayers.

“I reiterate that (the $200 WSC) is not an additional cost to most ratepayers,” council’s chief executive Sarah Philpott said. “The fixed charge portion of rates has reduced by $200 with the introduction of the Waste Service Charge. “Council hopes the WSC will encourage ratepayers to consider their personal environmental impact and the costs associated with waste management and does not intend to raise overall rates and charges associated with the charge.”

The WSC will be applied based on the service being available to a property, excluding vacant land and primary production where there is no dwelling on the land. “It is envisaged the WSC will establish the framework to allow for flexibility to provide future incentives for ratepayers who demonstrate good waste management,” Ms Philpott said.

Of the 4.5 % increase in rates, 2.1% is associated with a revenue increase – which compared to other years is quite modest – and an increase of council’s growth benefit, also known as council’s capital value of assets, by 2.4%.

This represents a yearly increase of $65 to rates which equates to an increase of $1.25 per week. Despite the percentage hike which was forecast in council’s long term financial plan, Mount Gambier’s rates still sit below the metropolitan and regional South Australian average.

It comes as council’s budget for the coming year outlines a total spend of $34.5m in operating expenditure, including depreciation of $7.7m and total capital expenditure of $55.8m for the delivery of services and programs and asset management. This includes $45.2m towards the development of the Wulanda Recreation and Convention Centre.

The budget also shows council will operate at an operating deficit of $572,000, but at a $17.67m net surplus after the Wulanda Recreation and Convention Centre funding. In addition, council’s annual business plan and budget includes a capital works program valued at more than $10.6m, with works including railway lands play space ($300,000), Valley Lakes toilet refurbishment ($400,000), library upgrades, including Bookmark Café ($145,000), extension of the shared walking/ cycling path from Wandilo to Wireless Road and installation of solar lighting (including $800,000 in State Government funding – $1.1m), LED

street lighting project (including $400,000 in State Government funding – $600,000), 12 new footpaths included in the works program ($374,125) and 20 roads included in the road reconstruction program ($2.12m).

Council said the delivery of services including the library, Mount Gambier Visitor Information Services, Riddoch Arts and Cultural Centre, parks, gardens, infrastructure and asset maintenance, waste collection and disposal – continued to represent significant components of its budget. At least $24m (70%) of council’s operating revenue will come from rates – including general rates, the Regional Landscape Levy and the Waste Service Charge.

Council’s remaining income comprises $5.6m (17%) from fees and charges and $4.5m (13%) from other sources, including federal assistance grants. In a statement, council said rate revenue will be used to invest in the Strategic Plan 2020 to 2024, to continue to deliver services and programs and capital works and to maintain assets and infrastructure.

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