Give feedback on 2024-25 budget and work plan

Published: 10 May 2024

Eurobodalla residents now have the opportunity to review the Council’s draft budget and operational plan for next financial year. Containing 190 actions and $105M in capital works, the draft was unanimously endorsed for public exhibition at last Tuesday’s Council Meeting.

$4.8 million in savings has been identified for 2024-25, bringing the general fund deficit down to $8.3 million from a projected $14M in 2023, but General Manager Warwick Winn says there is more to be done.

“I’m pleased with the $4.8 M in savings our managers have been able to find in their budgets for Council to consider for the next financial year,” he said.

“I recognise from our community pop ups and feedback that Eurobodalla residents have little appetite for radical service reductions. With that in mind, we have been careful to identify savings only where there will be little impact on the services we deliver. To achieve this, we’ve reprioritised our capital works programs and modified some services.

“For instance, we propose to close Moruya Library and the Bas on Sundays, in line with our other two libraries, but we’ll be programming extra activities in the Bas on a Saturday afternoon.

“We’ll close Bay Pavilions two hours early on three weekdays, and the slide tower will only open weekends and school and public holidays.”

Mr Winn warned the Bay Pavilions remains a major ongoing financial challenge, costing around $5M per year to operate, drastically more than anticipated and a significant factor in Council’s $8.3M general fund deficit.

“The Moruya Library, Bas and Bay Pavilions proposals are based on visitation data and will save around $150,000 per year. A further $125k can be saved on cleaning, utilities, and general operations, for a total saving at the Bay Pavilions and Moruya Library and Bas of $275,000.

“Our proposed capital works budget for roads and pathways remains very healthy at $17.4M, but we can save $398k by pushing out one urban road renewal until next year, and reduce the rate of road reseals from 35km per year to 30km, saving $274,000.

Pothole maintenance will remain a priority.

“And rather than grading our unsealed roads every six months, we’ll do them every nine months. That means about 415km of road will be graded per year instead of 529km, and $365k will be saved. An extra $101,000 will be trimmed by resheeting 2.5km less of our 430km gravel road network.

“We can trim $1.6M from our water and sewer capital budgets of roughly $20M by reprioritising our pipe renewal and cleaning programs, and we’ll continue construction of the southern dam, committing $32.5M for 2024-25.

“The frequency of mowing will be reduced from a three-week cycle to a four-week cycle, excluding sports fields during playing season and high visitation parks such as those on our foreshores, saving $178,000.

Mr Winn said these are prudent adjustments required by Council’s financial situation and all have been very carefully considered, sentiments echoed by Mayor Mathew Hatcher.

“This group of councillors, with full support from staff, has been determined to establish sound financial stewardship for the Council,” Mayor Hatcher said.

“This draft operational plan and budget is further demonstration we are headed in the right direction and starting to live within our means. It represents a return to core business, a return to a path of financial sustainability, and the consolidation of our new finance-led and delivery focussed service to the Eurobodalla community.

Mr Winn said the savings, if adopted by Council, will be monitored carefully and reviewed annually to gauge community impact and make adjustments as needed.”

“We will also continue to provide timely and honest updates to the community as we work through these financial challenges. We are on a journey of improvement, and I’ve been heartened by the community’s support so far.”

Mr Winn and Finance Director Stephanie Speedy will host a round of community briefings about the draft budget and operational plan during May. They follow well-attended community updates on the Finance Strategy during April.

A further report will be submitted to Council in June to consider submissions received about the draft budget and operational plan.

Community briefings will be held at Narooma Library on Tuesday 14 May, Moruya Library on Monday 20 May, and Batemans Bay Library on Thursday 23 May. All start at 5.30pm with a 45-minute presentation and plenty of time for questions.

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