Bass Coast,
10
December
2015
|
03:22
Australia/Melbourne

Your say on rate capping

Bass Coast Shire Council is inviting the community to take part in the review of the Long Term Financial Plan (LTFP), which will influence the 2016-17 Annual Budget.

The discussion will enable community members to join the conversation on rate capping and its potential impact on services, capital projects and Council’s overall financial position.

The LTFP was developed in April 2015 after extensive community consultation and was adopted with the intent to make updates to the Plan on an annual basis.

It has now been updated to reflect Council’s current financial position, whilst retaining the objectives and aspirations from the original document; in particular a focus on operating efficiently, containing operational spending, renewing assets, providing new facilities and continuing to be a low-rating Council.

A significant change since the adoption of the LTFP has been the State Government’s introduction of rate capping, with the Essential Services Commission (ESC) recommending a cap on rates linked to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is expected to be 3.05 per cent or lower in 2016/17 and reduced caps in following years.

Bass Coast Mayor, Cr Jordan Crugnale said, the legislation proposes a process for councils to seek a variation to the cap for their annual budget where they can justify the need for additional rate income to deliver on community expectations.

“If Council chooses to seek a variation to the cap and indicate this to the ESC by 31 January 2016, it must also consult with the community and discuss the potential impacts of the rate cap model.

“Council has not decided on its rating levels at this stage but wishes to retain flexibility as it engages with the community in the lead up to the 2016/17 Budget. If Council does not give intention to seek a variation than rates will be locked at the cap figure and the community will not have the opportunity to have their say,” Cr Crugnale said.

All community consultation will help form a vital part of Council’s consideration of its 2016/17 Budget.

“By delivering our Long Term Financial Plan to date and reviewing our operations for efficiencies, we have already been able to reduce our operational expenditure by over $2 million,” Cr Crugnale said.

The potential difference or variance of the rate cap model compared to the updated LTFP would be:

  • $24 less rates per average assessment
  • Total reduction of $701,817 in rate income in 2016/17
  • No minor capital projects will be delivered
  • Reduced spending on major capital projects
  • Further efficiencies and/or reduction in services over the next three years to the value of $1,334,000. This is in addition to the $2M+ that has already been delivered in previous years and the $1.4M that has been targeted in the updated LTFP

Community members will have numerous opportunities to have input, with community forums starting in January 2016 through to March 2016, and an online survey seeking feedback and preferred options. The community has an important opportunity to influence the Long Term Financial Plan and the 2016/17 Annual Budget before it is developed as a draft in March 2016.

“It’s important for people to know that they don’t need to be able to understand budgets and finances to get involved,” Cr Crugnale said.

“The original LTFP developed in April 2015 has now been updated. Savings and efficiencies in operations have been included and more funding is being diverted into seeking grant funding, increasing our capital works and renewing our assets. This is about the services Council provides to the community and where we make more efficiencies and service reductions.”

For more information on how you can get involved, visit www.basscoast.vic.gov.au/consultation or contact Council on 1300 BCOAST (226 278) or (03) 5671 2211, or email communications@basscoast.vic.gov.au.