While rumours abound about when the State Government is going to announce its decision on which merger proposals are to proceed, Kiama Council has released its Draft Operating Plan for the coming financial year which shows it is already meeting the Fit for the Future targets.
“It is a forward thinking responsible budget, with a small surplus, which implements the improvement program identified last year to produce efficiencies,” says Mayor Brian Petschler.
“As a result, we are meeting all of the Fit for the Future targets two years earlier than required.
“At the same time, it is a budget which is going to significantly add to the infrastructure of the area with the starting of the redevelopment of the hospital.”
The budget incorporates the rate-pegging increase of 1.8%. On average, Council set fees and charges are to increase 3%, however a 7.23% increase in domestic waste management charges is proposed.
The Mayor says that councils are having to shoulder extra responsibilities with less funds. Some examples include the provision of library services, controlling noious weeds, enforcing the Companion Animals Act and enforcing the fencing of swimming pools.
“Since rate pegging was introduced in 1974 there have been only two or three years when rate increases have met or exceeded CPI.”
This budgetary pressure has incresed by reduced financial assistance from the Federal Government.
Major items in the new capital delivery program for 2016/7 include the redesign and extension of a carpark at Figtree Lane Gerringong, fleet replacement, plant purchases, new computer equipment, a playshade structure in Gainsborough Chase, extension of the Jamberoo Valley Cycleway and construction work on the Blue Haven aged care facility (see right).
The Draft Operational Plan is now on public exhibition, giving councillors the opportunity to consider changes before ratification at the Council Meeting in June.