Tough budget endorsed

July 8, 2024 BY

Mount Gambier City Council has rubber stamped a raft of financial blueprints last month.

Council adopted the Annual Business Plan and Budget (ABP&B) 2024/2025, Long Term Financial Plan (LTFP) 2025/2034 and the Asset Management Plans (AMPs) 2025/2034 at a Special Council Meetingon June 25.

The Annual Business Plan and Budget outlines Council’s proposed services, projects, objectives and key performance indicators for 2024/2025 and includes the rating strategy, rating policies and annual budget.

City of Mount Gambier Mayor Lynette Martin thanked the community for the feedback received during the Draft 2024/2025 Annual Business Plan and Budget consultation process.

Elected Members finalised the budget for the impending financial year this week, following months of intensive discussions to balance council’s priorities in a difficult financial climate.

“Budget deliberations have been particularly challenging this year as we grapple to balance priorities while also being mindful of the cost of living pressures and the provision of service delivery required to meet community expectations and ensure that Council is positioned for long term financial sustainability,” Mayor Martin said.

Rates will increase by 10.13 per cent in general rate revenue (excluding growth of 1.11 per cent. Including growth, the total rate increase is 11.24 per cent) to create organisational capacity and achieve all financial targets by 2026/2027.

The average residential ratepayer will pay $1342 (excluding the Waste Service Charge) in 2024/25 which equates to an overall increase of $119 per annum, or $4 per week.

“Like everyone in the community, council is feeling the pressure of cost escalations and has attempted to minimise the impact of increasing costs for our ratepayers for several years,” Mayor Martin said. “This is a responsible and strategic budget in the context of creating a great future for Mount Gambier and is year one as we look towards developing Mount Gambier’s vision for 2035. It is about creating capacity to do what we are already doing well, doing it better and deliver what the community wants for the future.”

The City of Mount Gambier’s average residential rates are historically and currently, significantly lower than the rural state average. Council’s average residential rates were $1223 in 2023/24 compared with the $1725 South Australian Rural average.

Ratepayers experiencing financial hardship can access relief options, including alternative payment plans.

Contact the rates office on (08)8721 2561 or email [email protected] for assistance.

The Waste Service Charge (WSC) which highlights the cost to deliver waste services, will increase from $217.70 per year to $311 per year, per property in 2024/25.

City of Mount Gambier CEO Sarah Philpott said waste was a considerable cost for the entire community and the WSC makes the cost more transparent to the community.

“Council will continue the conversation with residents around how we all play a role in reducing waste, recycling and reusing things to divert items going to landfill,” she said.

All Elected Members present at the meeting voted in favour of the Asset Management Plan 2024/2025.

The budget outlines a total spend of $50.3 million in operating expenditure, including:

• Waste management and disposal,

• Development assessment and planning services,

• Library

• Community development and events, and

The depreciation of assets and maintenance of infrastructure assets including roads, footpaths, lighting, storm water drainage, street trees, sporting facilities, open space, cemeteries and other Council properties.

Key projects included in the operating budget:

• CBD activation and events

• Internal business systems review

• Visitor servicing

• Master planning for parks and recreation areas

• Delivery of the Strategic Work Plan.

The $11.4 million capital works program includes maintaining and replacing council’s existing asset base to invest in long term physical assets, incorporating renewals and investment in new assets or upgrades.

Key projects included in the capital budget:

• Renewal of Frew Park amenities,

• Civic Centre lift replacement,

• Railway Lands nature play area construction,

• Various road and footpath works, and

• Renewal and upgrade of Council’s plant and machinery.

Council also plans to deliver on some of the aspirational work outlined in the community’s vision for Mount Gambier 2035.