The City of Mount Gambier 2023/2024 Annual Business Plan and Budget, Long Term Financial Plan 2024 - 2033 and Interim Asset Management Summary 2024 - 2033 were adopted at a Special Council Meeting held on Tuesday 27 June 2023.
The budget outlines a total spend of $45.1 million in operating expenditure to be expended on waste management and disposal, development assessment and planning services, library services, community development and events. It will also include the maintenance/depreciation of infrastructure and building assets including roads, footpaths, lighting, stormwater drainage, cemeteries and other council properties.
“$5.8m has been allocated to renew assets including buildings and structures, infrastructure and plant and equipment. An additional $3.9 million has also been allocated to new/upgrades including Caroline Landfill, Wulanda Recreation and Convention Centre and other buildings and infrastructure,” City of Mount Gambier CEO Sarah Philpott said.
“Our budget includes the means for strategic endeavours to set us up for success as we work on the Crater Lakes activation and continuing to implement the Waste Management Strategy, the Reconciliation Action Plan and the Sport, Recreation and Open Space Strategy.”
Council’s estimated operating deficit in 2023/2024 is $2.8 million, driven by increasing cost pressures including electricity, fuel, interest rates and manufacturing.
“We are not alone in this, and similar challenges are being faced by all councils across South Australia,” Ms Philpott said.
City of Mount Gambier Mayor Lynette Martin said Elected Members undertook a robust deliberation process to finalise the budget.
“We have had five workshops and briefings to enable Councillors to make fiscally responsible decisions on behalf of our community to ensure we maintain our services and infrastructure,” Mayor Martin said.
Council has made the difficult decision to increase rates by more than is set out in the current Long Term Financial Plan due to cost pressures. The 2023/2024 total rate revenue percentage increase is 6.2%, which means the average residential ratepayer will pay an extra $56 per year.
“We understand and appreciate that cost of living pressures are being felt within in our community. It certainly wasn’t an easy decision for us to increase rates,” Mayor Martin said.
“During COVID in 2020/2021, we froze rates to assist ratepayers and in 2022/2023, rate increases were below CPI. However, in 2023/2024 we made the decision to increase rates due to inflation.”
“To remain financially sustainable and deliver against our treasury management targets we need to increase rates. However, it’s worth remembering that based on last year’s figures, the average rates notice in Mount Gambier remains below the South Australian average and is lower than neighbouring council areas,” the Mayor said.
Council adopted the Long Term Financial Plan 2024 – 2033, a strategic planning document to assist Council to plan for and deliver facilities and services to meet community expectations.
“While Council uses the Long Term Financial Plan to inform it’s Annual Business Plan and Budget, it must be remembered that the plan is a roadmap and as such, does not determine rates and charges each year. We plan to take a smoothing approach to rate revenue increases in the next three years,” Mayor Martin said.
Council also adopted the Interim Asset Management Summary 2024 – 2033, which forms the basis of the Long Term Financial Plan and the Annual Business Plan and Budget process.
“Council’s Interim Asset Management Summary influences the allocation of resources to ensure Council can provide services and infrastructure to the community in a sustainable manner,” CEO Sarah Philpott said.
“Council is currently undertaking a restructure of the current asset classes and allocations which has been identified as a strategic priority. The review is underway and will be presented to Council in the first quarter of the new calendar year. Council’s existing Asset Management Plans will remain current during this review.”
The 2023/2024 Annual Business Plan and Budget can be viewed here.
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