Wattle Range Council irons out budget details

A Wattle Range Councillor has again voiced his displeasure at the legilated obligation of his local government body to collect an annual levy to fund the regional Landscapes SA Board. Cr John Drew told last week’s special council meeting in Millicent that it was appropriate that council protests this State Government compulsory requirement each year when it sets its own rates.

He was supported by Cr Dale Price. Wattle Range Council households must pay $80 each while farming properties attract a current yearly levy of $354. The June 21 special council meeting lasted an hour and endorsed the 2021/22 budget. Some changes were endorsed to the draft budget which had gone out to public consultation a few weeks earlier.

As a result, an increase of $120,000 in the operating budget was approved leading to an anticipated operating deficit of $768,000. Some non-budget matters were also canvassed by councillors and senior staff. Council chief executive Ben Gower said upgrading of the digitised record keeping system had detected that six of council’s tourism staff had been underpaid in error.

Mr Gower said the situation would be rectified. “We will honour our industrial agreements,” Mr Gower said. With little comment, council endorsed a Local Government Association campaign calling on the State Government to adequately fund public libraries across South Australia.

Council decided that $1.7m in funding set to be used for the upgrade of Border Road will be handed back to the Federal Government. This follows Glenelg Shire’s decision not to join a funding agreement between Wattle Range Council and West Wimmera Council. Wattle Range Council asked to redirect the funding to upgrade Tower Road but was told that would not be possible.

Mr Gower said they would still retain a grant of $250,000 to upgrade a 1.8km section of Border Road with West Wimmera Shire contributing as well. Without federal support, council decided not to allocate any funds to upgrade Tower Road in 2021/22.

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