Draft budget open for submissions
Published on 14 May 2019
Council voted to put its draft budget for 2019/20 out for public display at tonight's Extraordinary Meeting of Council. We've summarised the main items that have been proposed. Please keep in mind the budget is still in draft form, and is open for public submissions for 28 days.
End to mine rates transfer
Council has previously been transferring 1% of mine rates onto the residential sector in an effort to end the city's reliance on mine rates, ensure the mines' rates aligned with their actual land use, and safeguard residents against a sudden rates spike if the mines were to close. However the positive outlook of the mining industry combined with the likelihood of mining operations continuing until 2030 has seen Council decide to end the rates transfer for its current tenure. Read more here.
Rates increase stays small
Council will again only increase rates by the rate peg limit of 2.7% as set by the Minister for Local Government. Broken Hill remains one of few Councils in NSW that has not increased rates above the rate peg in the last decade.
Council posted a budget deficit of $1.78 million in the 2018/2019 financial year. It is budgeting for a deficit of $1.48 million in 2019/20 - an expected improvement of 17%.
Improving and maintaining our services
Council will spend $6.6 million on capital works in the coming financial year, with the majority going toward roads and footpaths ($2.71m), buildings and assets ($2.1m), plant and equipment ($1.07m), and parks and open spaces ($780,000). Major projects include a new skate park ($702,000 subject to partial grant funding), extensive road resealing ($806,000), heavy patching of the airport apron ($630,000), and the replacement of street signs across the city ($200,000).
Maintenance and operation costs for Council’s assets for the next financial year are budgeted as follows: Art Gallery: $790,000, Aquatic Centre: $1.01m, Civic Centre: $500,000, GeoCentre: $250,000, Library: $680,000, Parks and open spaces: $1.63m, Roads and footpaths: $2.51m, Sporting fields: $360,000, VIC $350,000.
Bid to clear airport car park
Council is aware that the airport car park is often clogged by commercial vehicles, frustrating residents and making it difficult to utilise the terminal. Parking will remain free for all vehicles at the airport for the first two hours, however vehicles wishing to stay longer will be a charged a fee, up to a maximum of $10 per day. Read more here.
Fee change for waste facility
Council currently allows residents to use the waste facility for free (up to one tonne), while charging commercial users to dump all rubbish.
An independent audit of the city's waste facility found fees were being charged in an inconsistent manner, with waste categories misaligned to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Waste Classification Guidelines.
Commercial users also expressed frustration that they were charged to use the facility while residents could dump limitless rubbish for free. Concerns were also raised regarding businesses posing as residential users and hiding rubbish under green waste to dump commercial quantities of waste for free.
In an effort provide a more equitable system, each residential user may use the facility for free five times a year. After that limit is exceeded, residential loads of rubbish under one tonne will be charged at $5-$15 depending on size and weight. The fee structure will also be simplified to better meet the needs of commercial users, and meet EPA regulatory standards.
The dumping of recyclables, E-waste, iron and steel, and green waste will remain free. Read more here.
Fee reduction for small planes
A revision of airport landing fees will make it cheaper for small aircraft to land in the city. Larger aircraft will see a small to moderate increase in landing fees.
Council must rationalise assets
As has been mentioned by Council previously, there has been an underspend of approximately $54 million on asset and infrastructure renewal across the past 15 years.
The impact of this underspend is now being fully realised as Council undertakes the first significant review of assets in many years, and begins to fully understand the cost required to bring them up to standard and maintain them into the future.
Put simply, Council has too many assets, and does not have the money required to maintain them.
Council will look to rationalise assets across the city rather than increase rates above the rate peg to cover rising costs around their maintenance. Read more here.
New plans increase transparency
Council undertook a complete overhaul of its Operational Plan (OP) and Delivery Plan (DP). The plans outline what objectives Council will look to complete up to 2021 in alignment with the Community Strategic Plan. The simplified new format provides clearer outcomes and actions, and removes outdated, duplicated, and non-essential information from the previous plans.
Those wishing to view more details around draft budget issues are encouraged to view the business papers from this month's Extraordinary Meeting of the Council here.
Anyone wishing to make a submission around the draft budget can do so here.