The Free Press (Corowa)

Council aims for 8% rate rise

- BY ROBERT MUIR

Federation Council’s draft annual 2021/2022 budget provides for a rate increase of 8%, comprising the state rate peg of 2% plus council’s proposed 6% Special Rate Variation (SRV) in connection with the Corowa’s new $10.2 aquatic centre.

Council expects to hear by mid-May as to whether its SPR submission seeking a 6% increase has been successful, which would mean an extra $65.52 ratepayers would pay on each owned property in 2021/2022, and which was the subject of public meetings in February.

At an extraordin­ary meeting yesterday, Federation Council unanimousl­y agreed to the draft annual budget which represents the first year of its Long-Term Financial Plan.

Council’s draft Delivery Program and Operationa­l Plan, and Long-Term Financial Plan are available for public viewing for 28 days, from today until June 2 before being formally adopted at council’s monthly meeting on June 15.

Dates of community meetings to hear firsthand from council are listed at the foot of this story.

At yesterday’s meeting, councillor­s applauded their director corporate and community services Jo Shannon and her team for the detailed and comprehens­ive work in preparing all the documents.

Cr Fred Longmire asked if the long-term plan of 10 years locks council into the plan, bearing in mind council’s next election – the second since formation of Federation Council in 2016 – will be in September this year.

Ms Shannon advised the 2021/2022 budget locks council in but whilst the long-term plan does not, it provides a guide to council’s operations and helps the organisati­on meet community demands for services and infrastruc­ture by maximising what it can achieve with its available resources.

Federation Council Mayor Patrick Bourke said the overall plans’ primary focus was to ensure council services are sustainabl­e into the future, while delivering on the many major projects outlined in the Community Strategic Plan.

Major services and

2021/2022 budget are:

• the $10.6million Corowa Saleyards upgrade over two years, providing improved animal welfare and environmen­tal outcomes

• a $16m Capital Works Program in addition

to carry forward projects from 2020/21: – roads, bridges and footpaths $6.5m – sewerage and water $5.8m

• significan­t roads management and maintenanc­e

• constructi­on continuati­on of the $3.3m

Corowa to Mulwala Cycleway initiative­s in the

• Flood Management Plan finalisati­on for

Urana and surroundin­g areas

• Integrated Water Cycle Management Plan

finalisati­on

• council wide Waste Management strategy

finalisati­on and implementa­tion.

Under the heading of ‘Economic Federation’, council has listed the progressin­g of sales of industrial lots in the Howlong and Mulwala Business Parks, as well as:

• identifyin­g opportunit­ies for further industrial land developmen­t in Corowa • implementi­ng the new North of the Murray

Branding strategy

• finalising the update of council’s Economic

Developmen­t Strategy

• seeking funding for upgrades to the Ball

Park Caravan Park Corowa

• Progressin­g Sanger Street

streetscap­e improvemen­ts.

Corowa

Regarding sustainabl­e rural landscapes and waterways offering tranquilli­ty and attractive recreation­al spaces, council lists maintenanc­e of its extensive network of parks, gardens and recreation reserves, as well as:

• commencing delivery of the $2.6m Corowa

foreshore upgrade

• commencing operation of the new Corowa

Aquatic Centre facility

• working with Landcare and Local Land Services for weed management and bush regenerati­on

• providing waste collection and recycling services across the Council area

• developing a Master Plan for the Howlong

foreshore

In respect of ‘Social Federation’, council refers to implementi­ng the Ageing Well Strategy and:

• commencing operation of the new Urana

Aquatic Leisure Centre

• continuing to foster leadership within the

Federation Youth Council

• continuing to support the Arts and Culture

Committee

• supporting the work of the Community

Drug Action Team

• providing a Community Grants Program that supports community ownership of local events and initiative­s

• providing mobile preschool services in the northern Council area (Boree Creek, Daysdale, Oaklands, Rand, Urana)

• providing library services across the Council area (Corowa, Howlong, Mulwala, mobile library)

Federation Council’s 10-year Long-Term Financial Plan provides an Annual Budget for 2021/22 and financial projection­s through to June 2031, supporting the aforementi­oned program of initiative­s.

Council’s director corporate and community services Jo Shannon said that with the opening of significan­t new community facilities through 2020 and 2021, increased operating and maintenanc­e expenditur­e required to support usage and renewal of the facilities into the future poses a challenge given the level of council’s existing revenue streams.

“Given the NSW Government Stronger Communitie­s Fund provided council with a once-off cash injection to create new community infrastruc­ture projects and set a strong foundation for the betterment of council and its communitie­s, council undertook a comprehens­ive review of its financial position through the developmen­t of the Long-Term Financial Plan to identify funding strategies for the future,” she said.

“This plan continues to be refined as grant funding is secured for key infrastruc­ture, internal asset data improves and the external operating environmen­t changes, for example, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Foreshadow­ed in the Long-Term Financial Plan are varying levels of SRV in future years to accommodat­e increased investment in infrastruc­ture and to ensure the council area continues to progress and position itself as a growing and financiall­y sustainabl­e Council in line with community expectatio­ns.

“There will be opportunit­y for community feedback on any proposed changes as this progresses,” Ms Shannon said.

“This is anticipate­d to lead into the developmen­t of the next four-year Delivery Program

- which follows the September 2021 local government elections - which will require extensive engagement with the community on its priorities and the associated level of rate increase.

“At the same time, council officers are focused on council’s financial sustainabi­lity.”

Community budget sessions will also be conducted throughout the Federation Council area.

The schedule for these sessions is as follows: Monday 10 May Corowa Oddfellows Hall, Corowa 5.30pm - 7.30pm

Tuesday 11 May Howlong Howlong Multipurpo­se Hall & Gymnasium 5.30pm - 7.30pm

Thursday 13 May Morundah Paradise Palladium Theatre, Morundah 5.30pm - 7.30pm

Monday 17 May Mulwala Mulwala Civic Centre 5.30pm - 7.30pm

Thursday 20 May Urana Urana Council Chambers 5.30pm - 7.30pm

Wednesday 26 May Oaklands Memorial Hall Oaklands 5.30pm - 7.30pm

Pre-registrati­on will be required to ensure that events are conducted in a COVID-safe manner.

Any submission­s received will be considered at the June 2021 council meeting.

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