Eurobodalla Council has released for public comment its draft blueprint for the next few years, the Delivery Program and Operational Plan. This year Council is proposing a 1.7% increase to the General Rate in all rating categories (residential, farmland and business) • a 1.7% increase to the Environmental Levy • waste collection charges increasing by 1.7% • average water charges increasing by 2.75% with the access charge increasing by 2.86% to $360 and the usage charge by 2.63% to $3.90 per kilolitre • sewer access charge increasing by 1.98% to $1,030, the usage charge by 2.5% to $2.05 per kilolitre and the liquid trade waste usage charge increasing by 3.13% to $1.65 for compliant discharge. Of a projected total income of $135.7 million in 2022-23 with rates and fees paid by the community making up about half of that the Council should be left with around $90 million after paying $45.4m on employee costs. Council’s Delivery Program 2022-26 outlines services and major projects the organisation will deliver in its term of office. Basically for every $100 the following is the spread of where that money is distributed.
Above: after spending nearly half the budget on water, sewer, stormwater and waste (51.31%) the rest is trickled down with maintenance and construction of roads and bridges getting 19.02%, recreation maintenance and repair just 7.88% and the maintenance, renewal and repair of public facilities such as halls and public toilets just 5.33%. The Operational Plan 2022-23 breaks the program down further, listing individual categories for the coming financial year with Council saying the categories are supported by a budget, capital program and proposed rates, fees and charges. An example is the intended program for Community Facilities
There are no line items within this generalised budget and little, if any, detail for the community to digest of what roads might be reconstructed, resheeted or resealed. We are left wondering which toilets might be repaired or upgraded and which halls are scheduled for minor renewals. As to what Disability Access Works are, let alone where, there is no detail at all. Those hoping to understand and learn what Council assets are planned for sale to return $2,318,379 this year are left to speculate if Council are intending on selling the Batemans Bay Community Centre or more reserves they classify as "surplus to need".
Council expects to manage a total income of $135.7 million in 2022-23 – . Overall proposed expenditure is $136.9m, plus about $96.5m on capital projects.
Big ticket projects for 2022-23 include $24m on the continued construction of the southern dam, $13m upgrading the Batemans Bay Sewerage Treatment Plant, and $8.6m improving the Surf Beach and Brou landfill sites.
About $3.8m will be spent on the Batemans Bay Coastal Headlands Walk and $5.6m on the Mogo Trails – both of these are grant funded.
While Council tells us that $13m has been allocated to road, footpath and bus shelter works they fail to advise that general asset maintenance requires a road to be resealed every 7 to 10 years, footpaths require ongoing maintenance and bus shelters are given an annual lick of paint. Within a the network of roads, footpaths and bus shelters $13 million leaves little left over for new paths and shelter improvement. The same could be said for the $646,067 for improvements to community facilities like public toilets and halls. As there is no detail the community is left wondering where, and what? Again $2.3m for recreation, including marine facilities, playgrounds, sports fields and reserves barely touches the sides of the demand to maintain these assets, let alone make any improvements.
The good news is that 4,542 pensioner property owners will receive rebates of up to 50 per cent on their rates, a cost of about $860,000 to Council and the community. That should help, given the 1.7% increase they face in their rates.
Council’s Delivery Program 2022-26 and Operational Plan 2022-23 is on public exhibition for community feedback until Thursday 26 May, 5pm.
View the plans and make a submission via www.esc.nsw.gov.au/publicexhibition