Central Highlands’ Mayor Councillor Kerry Hayes said today that the 2016-2017 budget was a budget that responded to community expectations and would represent a change to a strategic financial focus on cost savings and efficiencies and a better utilisation of capital.
‘We were given a clear message during the recent local government elections that cost of living pressures including rates were having a big impact on family budgets and council has had this uppermost in their minds when preparing this budget.
‘To that end we are holding revenues to the previous years’ level, but sought to standardise where possible utility charges across the region as a means of making our base costs more equitable.
‘If we are to pursue a fairer and more equitable rates policy, then we need to make sure that our fees and charges are reflective of our actual costs.
‘Council’s recently adopted asset management policy and plans are another important step toward assisting with future cost savings and are important parts of a strategy that identifies our true cost of operations.
‘Ratepayers should expect slight variations across their notices with the changes to their utilities charges and for movements in individual property valuations.
‘While we have worked to keep any changes to a minimum, we are extending waste fees to our total rate base to prepare for upgrades to our regional waste management program.
‘Overall, this budget weighs up our community’s expectations against financial prudence and we will continue to reduce debt, utilise capital from reserves, and run our operations as lean as we can.
‘Effectively we are holding costs as best we can and look forward to improved economic activity with some important projects developing over the next twelve months,’ the mayor concluded.