The Central Highlands Regional Council today adopted a $237.6 million budget for 2022-2023, containing a $64.5 million capital works program and a 3% rate increase for the average household.
Mayor Kerry Hayes said this was a challenging budget to set, as changing economic conditions continue to impact the nation at all levels.
‘This is an uncertain and difficult time for all Australians, and as a council we too feel the financial burden,’ he said.
‘High inflation, rising interest rates, supply chain disruptions and significant price increases for goods and services have all had to be considered, as well as the recent reduction in our financial assistance grant from the state grants commission.
‘As your representatives, you trust us to prioritise wisely, deliver for our communities and progress this great region, all while ensuring council’s long-term financial sustainability.
‘With an area the size of Tasmania and just 15,000 rateable properties, it is a complex task but we believe this budget is balanced, affordable and deliverable.’
Residential, commercial and rural rates will increase by 3% and properties in the resource sector by 4% for 2022-2023.
‘Rates are one of council’s main income streams, so to recover the gap left by all of these economic blows and ensure we can maintain our core service levels increases have to happen,’ he said.
‘However, we have done everything we can to keep them to a minimum and they are below or in line with other councils’ increases across the state.’
Mayor Hayes said the increases were also below the Brisbane Consumer Price Index (CPI) rate of 6%, as reported in the March 2022 quarter.
Ratepayers will also see increases in water, sewerage and waste charges for the coming year.
‘Utility charges don’t attract subsidies, and because of the vast geographical network of the Highlands, they are some of the most costly services for council to operate,’ he said.
‘It is essential that council continues on a path to full cost recovery for utilities. This not only makes sure we can meet future utility needs of the community but is necessary under local government legislation.’
This year council will invest just under $65 million into its capital works program, including $22.6 million for roads and bridges, $17.8 million for water assets and $2.9 million for parks and open spaces.
‘Council’s capital projects are strongly focussed on renewal but also include new things, like the construction of a building or a park,’ Mayor Hayes said.
‘We will also invest in planning and design to access additional funding opportunities wherever we can.’
Mayor Hayes said this is a responsible budget that responds to both the challenges and opportunities faced by local governments.
‘We hope that you recognise the deep care and thought that has gone into the 2022-2023 budget,’ he said.
‘Now more than ever it is imperative that we all work together, get this budget delivered and keep the Central Highlands growing.’