Roads, higher rates and efficiencies

Federation Council’s director corporate and community services Jo Shannon answers a question at the Corowa meeting on Monday.

Road improvements, questions around sharp rate increases, ensuring council continues to seek and demonstrate efficiencies, communication and planning and development matters.

These are the consistent themes raised by over 100 ratepayers at draft budget sessions and subsequent drop-in sessions in Corowa, Howlong, Urana and Mulwala.

Especially emphasised at Corowa, Howlong and Urana sessions was the poor quality of roads which need to addressed, and the slowness in obtaining council approvals for town growth at Mulwala.

Rate increases at 2.5% for 2022/23 are followed – subject to IPART (the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal) approval – by a special rate variation for four years from 2023/24 to 2026/27 being 19%, 17%, 14% an 10%.

Council would submit an application for approval to IPART in the 2022/23 financial year.

Under the 2022/23 proposed budget, Federation Council will aim to complete $18m in operational expenditure roadworks, bridges and footpath maintenance, and $8.9m on the sewerage and water network.

In its Long-Term Financial Plan, council proposes a $48 million annual operating program: $18.6m capital program for 2022/23 ($104m total capital program over the 10 years).

Drop-in sessions were held in Corowa and Howlong on Monday. Sessions are being held today (Wednesday, June 8) in Urana (10.00am to 12 noon) and Mulwala from 2.00pm to 4.00pm.

Federation Council Mayor Pat Bourke thanked all residents who have attended the council-run sessions.

“We are receiving great community feedback and it is always appreciated,” he said.

“Council will consider all feedback in our meeting on June 28 and adjust any plans if considered appropriate and possible, to ensure we continue to do all we can to ensure our plans reflect community views and priorities, of course within council’s financial capacity.

“Hence the special rate variation application signals council’s intent that more funding is needed, and I think ratepayers recognise this.

“We acknowledge the financial impact that the increase to general rates places on those who are more vulnerable in our community.

“To better support these ratepayers we will be reviewing our Hardship Policy and we have commissioned an independent capacity-to-pay study to guide the direction of council.”

Mayor Bourke said service reviews play a large part in the continual work on efficiencies.

“Council understands very clearly where we are at on our sustainability journey, and that has led us to developing the current draft plans to pave the way forward,” he said.

“There is a lot of information currently out there and I thank those residents who are taking the time to ensure they are well informed to allow valuable feedback.

“I would also like to assure residents that our long-term plans rely upon ensuring our services are efficient, whilst still increasing the revenue of council, and allowing over time if additional rates are approved, for an improvement in the maintenance and renewal/upgrade of our roads and other assets as required.”

Council invites feedback on the draft documents from all interested stakeholders and members of the community before 5.00pm Tuesday, June 14, 2022. View the documents from any council offices, or online from our website.