Towong Shire

Draft Budget released for public comment

Towong Shire Council�s draft Budget 2016/17 is on exhibition

Towong Shire Council’s draft Budget for 2016/17 is now available for community consultation with a proposed rate increase of 3.5%, operating expenditure of $13.9 million and a capital works program of $9.8 million.

Council invites and welcomes submissions on the proposed Budget 2016/17 until 14 July 2016.

Submissions may be lodged at either the Corryong or Tallangatta Office until 14 July 2016 and will be tabled at Council’s meeting on 2 August 2016 in Corryong. Any person making a submission may also request to address Council at the meeting.

The detailed draft Budget for 2016/17 is available to download at the bottom of this page.

 

Draft Budget 2016/17

The draft Budget for 2016/17 has been built on the priorities contained in the 2013-2017 Council Plan under the six Key Result Areas of Organisational improvement, Community wellbeing, Asset management, Environmental sustainability, Land-use planning and Economic and tourism development.  The document also includes the updated Strategic Resource Plan (covering the four years to June 2020) and Long Term Financial Plan (covering the ten years to June 2026).

The draft Budget 2016/17 (and Strategic Resource Plan and Long Term Financial Plan) delivers on Council’s long term financial planning objectives to:

  • Improve the underlying result from the current underlying deficit to an underlying surplus within the next ten years (achieved in 2020/21)
  • Ensure that cash reserves in ten years (2026) will be adequate to meet Council commitments and obligations
  • Ensure that borrowings will only be incurred to fund Council contributions to multigenerational projects 
  • Deliver an asset renewal program at 100% of the recommended levels. 

This budget seeks to address the financial challenges faced by our municipality whilst also delivering on a range of key projects for our community, including:

  • Implementing Destination Tallangatta projects including upgrades to the Tallangatta foreshore, Tallangatta Holiday Park and Towong Street
  • Seeking external funding to implement the Master Plan for our Upper Murray communities – Upper Murray 2030 Vision Plan
  • Establishing a range of services in our new community building in Tallangatta, including library, kindergarten, child care and maternal and child health services
  • Continuing to implement our Town Beautification Program throughout the Shire
  • Upgrading of the Corryong airport precinct in partnership with the State Government
  • Attracting business and government agencies to operate within our Shire.

Council delivers a range of services to the community and maintains and renews an extensive network of infrastructure and assets throughout the Shire. This graph shows how Council allocates expenditure across the main services that it delivers, effectively demonstrating where every $100 is allocated in providing services to our community. 

Proposed Expenditure 2016/17

Budget development and introduction of the State Government’s Fair Go Rates System

Early this year a draft Budget was developed and associated long term financial modelling updated to establish the rate increase that would be required to ensure that Council could sustainably deliver services and maintain and renew infrastructure at current levels into the future. The modelling revealed that a rate increase of 6.34% was required to be financially sustainable in accordance with Council’s Long Term Financial Plan and the Victorian Auditor General’s financial sustainability indicators. This rate increase would be required each year for the next ten years.

The 2016/17 financial year is the first year of implementation of the State Government’s Fair Go Rates System.  The intention of Government’s policy is to limit local government rate increases to contain the cost of living and ensure greater accountability and transparency in local government. In December 2015 the Minister for Local Government announced a cap of 2.5% on Council rate increases for 2016/17. This means that councils are limited to an average general rate and municipal charge increase of 2.5% for 2016/17. 

As the rate increase required for Council to be financially sustainable was greater than 2.5%, an application was made to the Essential Services Commission (ESC) for a higher rate cap of 6.34%

The ESC conducted a comprehensive review of Council financial data and analysis.  On 31 May 2016, the ESC announced that Council’s application for a higher rate cap (6.34%) was approved for the 2016/17 financial year.  In the accompanying report, the ESC stated “that the higher cap is consistent with Towong’s well developed long-term financial plan to deliver sustainable outcomes in services and critical infrastructure in the long-term interests of its community. We find Towong’s application and long-term financial plan to be consistent with the requirements of the Fair Go Rates System.” 

This report can be viewed at Towong Shire Council - Final Decision | Essential Services Commission

Council has made it clear that it supports the principles underpinning the Victorian Government’s Fair Go Rates System, particularly to contain the cost of living for Towong Shire ratepayers.

Budget decisions at Tuesday’s Council meeting

At the 7 June 2016 Council meeting, Council considered its position in relation to the 2016/17 rate increase for Towong Shire ratepayers.

Council is balancing the immediate capacity of ratepayers to pay increased rates and ensuring that Council is able to provide services and maintain infrastructure in the longer term. The financial modelling indicates that Council requires additional revenue to fund future infrastructure and service delivery needs. We believe that the additional revenue should come from other levels of government rather than Towong Shire ratepayers. Alternatively, it may be appropriate for some services to be fully funded or provided by the State Government. To progress this Council has formally requested a meeting with the Premier to discuss alternative funding options for Towong Shire. 

After serious consideration of these factors Council supported a 3.5% rate increase for the draft Budget that is now released for public exhibition.  Council also decided that it would need to reduce a number of services to accommodate this reduced rate increase. The services (and associated expenditure impacts) are as follows:

a)       Cease to match the Victorian Government contribution to the three local State Emergency Services units

b)      Reduce the Youth events budget by $9,000

c)       Reduce the Seniors event budget by $9,000

d)      Reduce funding to the Eskdale pool by $1,000

e)       Reduce the Tallangatta and Corryong pool budget by $10,000

f)        Cease membership of the Murray Darling Association

g)      Cease participating in the whole-of-government community satisfaction survey

h)       Discontinue the Local Government tertiary scholarship

i)         Reduce the contribution to Murray Arts by $2,000

j)         Cap the budget available for annual salary and wage increases to 1% or CPI, whichever is the lesser

k)       Reduce the staff training budget by $9,000

l)         Cease membership of Timber Towns for 2016/2017 (and review for 2017/2018).

In addition to the above changes for 2016/17, Council requested a review of a number of areas of operation:

  • swimming pools - consider alternative operating models, including the possibility of a community run model
  • maternal and child health services- consider opportunities for service delivery efficiencies or for better targeting of services
  • Corryong and Tallangatta transfer station operations - consider alternative operating hours / models.

Council agreed to maintain support for kindergartens in Bellbridge, Corryong and Tallangatta and to maintain supervision of existing school crossings.

Budget public exhibition process

The proposed Budget 2016/17 is now available for inspection and further input from the community. This public exhibition period will close on 14 July 2016.  It is available for inspection at the Corryong and Tallangatta Council Offices and on Council’s website.

Council invites and welcomes submissions on the proposed Budget 2016/17 until 14 July 2016.

Anyone may make a submission under section 223 of the Local Government Act on any proposal contained in the budget. Submissions may be lodged at either the Tallangatta or Corryong Office during that period and will be tabled at Council’s meeting on 2 August 2016 in Corryong. Any person making a submission may also address Council at the meeting in support of their submission.

 The proposed Budget is available for download below:

Towong Shire Council - Draft Budget 2016/17 (PDF 2384 KB)

Last updated: 14 June 2016