Mayor proud of ‘safe hands’ budget

Published: 28 June 2024

Mayor Mathew Hatcher says he’s proud of the success of steps to address Eurobodalla Council’s budget deficit, as councillors welcomed an improving financial outlook while approving the 2024-25 budget at June’s Council meeting.

“By finding more efficiencies and taking a measured approach to service provision, we’ve managed to avoid those large Special Rate Variations we’re seeing in neighbouring shires,” Mayor Hatcher said.

“We’ve worked very hard to communicate our financial position and current and future work plans in different forums across the shire. This has been well received. People have been interested and understanding – it’s very much about transparency and accountability. It feels good to be ending this Council term with a focus on financial stewardship while still delivering the services the community expects.”

Mayor Hatcher said advocacy by Council had also played a role in recent State Government support for the shire – including a slice of both the $200 million package for health-worker accommodation, assisting with an increased workforce to both build and staff the new Eurobodalla Regional Hospital, and the $253.7 million boost to the state’s planning system.

“Advocacy works. Good relations with state and federal representatives are pivotal to a prosperous, liveable Eurobodalla,” the Mayor said.

“We’ve long been advocating around on-site nursing accommodation at the new hospital. Until now, there’s been some pushback, so it’s great to see our efforts have had an effect. Certainly any investment in housing and in streamlining the state’s planning portal to reduce costs and time-lags is very welcome.”

The Mayor added that cancelling the water and sewer dividend to Council’s general fund starting next year was further signal that councillors are doing all they can to get best value for the shire’s ratepayers.

The Council budget was adopted alongside the 2024-25 Operational Plan, the Long Term Financial Plan 2024-34, Fees and Charges 2024-25, and rates information. Council’s general manager Warwick Winn said there were reductions in some services but these were generally modest and a better reflection of the work Council could actually achieve.

“We still have a strong focus on roads and footpaths, spending $17.4M for 24-25, but by pushing out one urban road renewal and reducing annual urban road resealing from 35km to 30km, we save more than a quarter of a million dollars. By grading unsealed roads every nine months, rather than six, we save $365,000. Often we only grade every 12 months in reality, and we will carefully monitor conditions.

“Similarly, sports fields and popular parks aside, we’ll reduce mowing from a three-week to a four-week cycle, saving $178,000. These figures better reflect the work staff can actually get done. It’s the practical, prioritised approach we’ve taken across the entire organisation.

“The Mayor and councillors have shown strong guidance and leadership on the financial front, saving Eurobodalla ratepayers from the large rate increases facing our neighbours. They’ve made tough decisions and embraced a financial stewardship model that will see our Council living within its means and on a path to financial sustainability.”

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