Responsible budget right for economic times

Bass Coast Shire Council has formally adopted its Budget for the next financial year which includes almost $30 million for capital works improvements to cater for the region’s fast-growing population.

Council has worked hard to improve the efficiency of the organisation to ensure that all service levels are maintained within the State Government cap of 3.5 per cent.

Bass Coast Shire Council Mayor Cr Michael Whelan said the Budget reflected the cost-of-living challenges and the economic climate, plus the importance of Federal and State Government funding to offset the impact of Council’s rate cap.

“In the last year the world has changed. Inflation levels have continued to rise nationally and internationally, which has had a significant impact on Council’s expenditure,” Cr Whelan said.

“Costs are rising for councils, just as they have in the supermarket and at the petrol pump. We were facing potential increases in the double digits but, thanks to the hard work of our staff and budget restraint exercised by councillors, we’ve mitigated those impacts while still maintaining our ability to deliver effectively for our communities.”

“We are committed to maintaining current service levels as valued by our community and maintaining our infrastructure.” Cr Whelan said.

The Budget provides for total expenditure of $107 million, including almost $30 million on capital works. It projects a surplus of $5.2 million with a small underlying deficit of $0.4 million once the impact of grant revenue to fund capital works is removed. Council’s financial position remains sound with its working capital ratio of 1.80 reinforcing its ability to meet its financial commitments as they fall due, borrowings well within the prudential ratios, and a balanced Funding Statement position.

The Budget includes a $16.1 million investment in our extensive road and pathway networks, $13.4 million for leisure and recreation facilities, $4 million on climate change actions and $12.9 million to upgrade community facilities.

Council has been impacted by significant supply chain price rises for building and construction materials which impacts the cost of its infrastructure maintenance, and renewal programs. Additionally, insurance premiums have increased markedly due to the major flood events of the past year.

Council’s waste management services have been impacted by abnormal cost increases linked to the high inflation rate, increased home occupancy rates, additional leachate generation due to wet weather and the rehabilitation of closed landfill sites. This has resulted in a standard waste management charge increase of $58.75.

Cr Whelan said the Essential Services Commission had recommended a 4 per cent rate cap to partially keep pace with inflation, while the State Government has set the 2023/24 rate cap at 3.5 per cent. This is the second successive year that the rate cap has been significantly lower than the inflation rate (2022/23 rate cap of 1.75 per cent compared to June 2022 CPI of 6.1 per cent).

For most ratepayers this means an increase in rates between $50 and $90 this year. However, a small number of ratepayers could see higher increases based on their property values, compared to last year.

“Council has worked hard to improve the efficiency of our organisation to ensure that all service levels are maintained, while also staying within a rate cap that is half inflation,” Cr Whelan said.

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