Under examination – the Council Budget

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One of the large and ongoing issues of Council has been in respect to the cost of rates and the issues of the budget. So let’s look at these:

General Premise

Within the council budget a portion of rates should be set aside for operational costs including maintenance as well as for Council development. If this is not the case within the budget itself then there is something very wrong with the budget.

Council rates should be able to service all of those operational costs based on a worst case scenario of land value drops and every land owner falling to the concession criteria. If this has not been set as a threshold then it is time to look at why. We need to ensure that, even in a worst case scenario, that the Council budget is sustainable.

In the case where we are not in a worst case scenario then, there should be funds budgeted for further development of the community and Council services in addition to the ability to sustain any new ongoing costs from them. Yes, some finance may be leveraged to reach development goals but this should be done with adequate due diligence.

Council Rates

Not so many years ago, residents of City of Onkaparinga recieved several years of rate increases well above CPI. It was painful. Our household felt it just as much as the next. Local people who were renting even became vocal because increases in rates made a marked difference when owners reviewed their rent amounts also. To me, this still resonates as if it was yesterday. It was this rates pressure combined with Jeremy’s redundancy that made me start sharing my own budget tips, originally just locally but also picked up nationally.

As a continuing sentiment I feel that we definitely need to create a reprieve for property owners. This is especially with so many experiencing the pressures that have come with coronavirus as well and the need to not put extra pressure on the rental market whilst unemployment is climbing.

This is why I am committed to the Councillor’s Pledge:

Council Debt

When it comes to Council debt I am perhaps less worried about it than most in the context of where it is at this moment knowing that there is time over the remainder of this electoral term to make planned and strategic change. I also understand and apppreciate that the economic environment that we are living in has changed significantly over recent months.

Debt has two factors that we need to consider – the interest rate at which we are paying and the serviceability – how easily we can cover interest payments as part of ongoing costs and at what level we can repay it in context of a changing economic environment into the future.

I am also mindful that Council’s debt is not like a home loan on a single rate. Finance often comes from multiple sources and on different terms. This is why it is encumbant on all members of Council to review the finer details of City of Onkaparinga’s debt position.

As someone who has worked in industry for several years, I am all too famliar with managing a working debt. Business owners often walk a shoestring budget as they cover their ‘off-season’ whether that be in the low of the tourist season or the extreme weather days of the building and construction industry. These are the times where wages still have to be paid even if billable income is not coming in. What it takes to create a good budget when there is economic uncertainty is quality forecasting. As someone with experience in budget oversight and assisting businesses to manage their outgoings and debt as part of their budget forecasting I am confident I can convey economically sound views on behalf of the community I would be expected to represent.

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