Council budget July date confirmed

The Southern Downs Regional Council expects to adopt the finalised 2020-2021 budget on Wednesday 22 July.

The budget was initially anticipated for adoption on Tuesday of this week – June 30 – but has been delayed as councillors and council staff work through public submissions resulting from consultation on the draft budget released in late May.

“As part of the Budget consultation process, the community was given the opportunity to provide feedback and make budget submissions on the Draft Budget through various platforms,” a spokeswoman said.

“These included submitting a form on Council’s Website, directly to the Community Contact Centre in writing, by email to Councillors and/or by making a presentation to Council.

“A total of 55 submissions were received from the public during the comment periods which are attached to this report for information.

“Full submissions are confidential as they contain personal information of the submitter, in accordance with the Privacy Act.”

The draft 2020-2021 budget proposed a zero rate increase for the region and half-yearly general and utility rates, and Mayor Vic Pennisi has said these measures expect to be formally adopted.

The first round of rates notices will be issued by the end of August.

Councillors last week adopted the schedule of council fees and charges for 2020-2021 – separate to rates – and overall will apply a 2.5% increase but Mayor Vic Pennisi has said some of these items may be further reviewed in light of COVID-19.

Adoption of a fees and charges schedule is required by the end of the financial year but the State Government allows council until August to finalise and adopt the budget itself.

COVID-19 challenges…

The draft 2020-2021 budget was adopted at a special council meeting on Friday 29 May.

At that time the council released the following statement on the draft budget –

“In the Friday 29 May 2020 Special Council Meeting, Southern Downs Regional Council adopted its 2020-2021 Draft Budget, delivering the lowest general rate rise in more than a decade,” the statement said.

“Amidst the challenge of COVID-19, staff have faced the challenge of planning for unknown future circumstances surrounding border closures, enforced business closures, low tourism, and many more.

“However, staff are committed to producing a Draft Budget which continues to meet the community’s needs while still being financially prudent.

“General rates will increase by just 1.9% per cent, the lowest rise since 2008, and Council will continue to extend the early payment discount period from 30 to 60 days to assist residents impacted by ongoing drought and COVID-19 conditions.

“Utility charges for water, sewer and waste will rise by only 1.9% which is less than the previous increase within the 2019-2020 Financial Year.

“In light of the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, Council will apply a COVID-19 concession of 1.9% to the general rates and all utility charges for water, sewer and waste, effectively delivering a 0% rate rise.

“The 2020-21 Draft Budget forecasts an operating surplus of $63,000 and will further reduce Council’s debt by $1.6 million.”

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