Council returns to ‘conventional’ budget, makes progress on key projects

Orange Council

Here are some highlights of the 19 April Council meeting.

After two years of budgets designed to assist the community to recover from COVID-19, Orange City Council’s financial plans for the coming financial year return to a routine budget aimed at making progress on key major projects.

Last night’s Council meeting (19 April) voted to put the proposed budget for the 2022/23 financial year on display for community comment.

The draft budget reveals plans to spend $68.1 million on capital projects in the coming year, with a consolidated operating deficit of $931,748. The projects will be funded by a mix of government grants, council reserves and property sales.

The major capital projects that will see progress during the next 12 months are:

  • new sporting precinct,
  • the Orange Regional Conservatorium, and
  • the next stage of the southern feeder road, west from Anson Street.

The list of key projects planned for next year includes:

  • $6 million for a new water reservoir and underground pipes to bring water to the new Shiralee housing area
  • $2 million for upgrades at the Orange Regional Airport
  • $2.1 million to build the next stage of the Euchareena Road landfill site
  • $2.1 million for upgrades to the Water Treatment Plant
  • $5 million for more progress on the FutureCity CBD upgrade

Affordable housing, social equity and more facilities for young people are main priorities in new community ‘blueprint’

The Orange community wants Orange City Council to give greater priority to tackling affordable housing, providing more recreational options for young people and addressing problems surrounding poverty and social equity, according to the results of the ‘Future Orange’ community conversation.

From November last year to March this year, Orange City Council ran a wide-ranging conversation with the community to produce the updated Community Strategic Plan (CSP).

A string of new strategies have been added to the draft CSP and last night’s Council meeting voted to put the new document on exhibition for community comment.

According to an online survey, the top ‘challenges’ facing the Orange community in the coming years are:

  • Lack of social and affordable housing
  • Problems surrounding poverty and social equity
  • Lack of recreational options for young people, and
  • Giving a priority to the environment, employment growth and the business community

The CSP is part of the Integrated Planning & Reporting (IP&R) requirements produced by all councils under the Local Government Act. Orange City Council has produced the required suite of long-term financial management plans, a four-year Delivery Program and an annual operational plan to the IP&R suite as well as a workforce management strategy and an asset management strategy.

As well as the CSP, last night’s meeting voted to place all the draft IP&R documents on exhibition for community comment.

The draft documents will be on exhibition for community comment for 28 days. A report about the community submissions will be brought to a council meeting on 7 June when the CSP will be adopted.

Council to seek special rate variation

It’s intended that residential and business rates will rise in 2022/23 by 2.5%.

While the NSW Government’s Independent Pricing & Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) mandated a rate peg of 0.7%, last night’s meeting decided to apply for an additional special variation of 2.5%.

If that is approved, average residential rates will increase by $39.82 per year, or by $1.33 per week, including water, waste and sewer charges. Average business rates will increase by $68.56 or $1.32 per week.

According to a report to the meeting, if the Council isn’t successful in achieving the 2.5% increase, there would be a reduction in the draft rates budget of approximately $620,000 in 2022/23 that would lead to a compound loss of income of over $7 million for the 10-year life of the Council’s long-term financial plan.

Councillors to be paid superannuation

For the first time, Orange City Councillors will be paid superannuation.

Following an amendment to the Local Government Act 1993 during 2021, Councils may elect to make Councillor contributions to a nominated superannuation account from 1 July 2022. The making of superannuation payments for Councillors is optional and is at the discretion of Council.

Last night’s meeting voted to adopt the change which will see councillors paid superannuation at 10.5% in line with Council staff.

According to a report to the meeting the total extra amount paid for superannuation for all 12 councillors would be come to $39,669.

New name for northern bypass

Last night’s meeting decided to ask the community what it thinks of a suggestion for the official name of the northern bypass to be changed from Northern Distributor Road to Glenn Taylor Way.

Long-serving councillor, Glenn Taylor, died in January this year.

The proposal will go on exhibition for community comment for 28 days, before being sent to the NSW Geographical Names Board.

Next stage of southern feeder road to begin soon

Work is set to begin on the next $14.7 million stage of the southern feeder road in the coming months following a decision by last night’s meeting to award the contract for the project.

After a tendering process, the project has been awarded to the MAAS Group.

The next stage will see the road built west from Anson Street to Shiralee Road, where a roundabout will be built.

Call for major sports events

Last night’s meeting voted to make new approaches to clubs in all major sporting codes to explore the “prospect of initiating a long-term association with the City of Orange”.

The motion, proposed by Cr Glenn Floyd, sought to maximise “the potential of the future Orange Sports Precinct in attracting high profile sporting fixtures” and asks for progress reports from Council staff.

/Public Release. View in full here.