‘The councillors were given a clear message during the recent local government election that cost of living pressures, including rates, were having a big impact on family budgets and we have had this uppermost in our minds when preparing this budget,’ the mayor said.
‘The most welcome news is that there is a minimal or no increase in rates for the majority of residential ratepayers.
‘It’s simple and honest—if your rates are paid on time, that’s within the 30-day period, not all, but the majority of households will pay about the same amount as they did last year.
‘And, for the first time since amalgamation in 2008, utility charges are spread equally across the region, which means nearly 70 per cent of households will pay less for waste services.
‘This first budget of the new Central Highlands Regional Council is about strengthening financial sustainability and managing the challenges provided by a changing local economy and reduced funding from other levels of government.
‘The new council has inherited a healthy financial base and a substantial cash position to enable it to be flexible in its decision making and keep revenue increases to a minimum.
‘Recently adopted asset management plans provide us the opportunity to focus capital expenditure more effectively on emerging priorities,’ the mayor added.
Councillors and those in the public gallery were told that the 2016-17 Budget most represents what’s normal business for this region.
‘There’s not a lot of disaster restoration work happening, there’s a sensible amount of major projects in the pipeline, we’re reducing the operating surplus and paying down some debt and it’s occurring in an economy that’s not influenced by an over-active resources sector,’ the mayor explained.
‘Overall, the total revenue is down by $5.4 million from 2015-16—primarily grant support from other levels of government and a reduction in rate revenue—which means we will continue to focus on finding efficiencies in the way we conduct our business.
‘However, it remains prudent for the council to invest in technology and continue to look for innovative ways to do business that are cost effective and stimulate productivity.
‘This budget represents the start of a broader strategy that will improve council’s performance and gain efficiencies over the coming years.
‘The guiding principle—our mission—is to provide assets and services responsibly. In 2016-17, this means making firm and reasonable decisions and being even more accountable for those decisions.
‘The balance we seek is to maintain affordability for our residents and ensure there is provision for future generations.’
Central Highlands Budget Quick Facts
The majority of households and businesses will not incur a rate rise.
Utility charges have been spread equally across the region resulting in a drop in waste charges for many property owners.
The incentive for early rate payment is now a 10% reduction if payment is made within 30 days of issue.
The total capital expenditure is forecast at $69 million (grants and council funds), which includes major projects carried forward including the significant completion of the Blackwater Aquatic Centre, commencing construction of the Black Gully Sewerage Treatment Plant and completion of the Emerald Airport Runway Overlay and the commencement of improvement works on Carnarvon Gorge Road.
Surplus of $6.3 million for 2016/17 financial year. A decrease of $5.7 million from 2015-16.
Council’s operating cash position comprises funds in excess of $130 million.
In the last three years, council’s revenue has decreased by almost $29 million largely due to changes in funding for disaster restoration work.
Visit our special Budget 2016-17 page for more information.