Heated talk over council's budget

FUTURE: Discussions about the District Council of Yankalilla's 2019-20 budget resulted in an almost five-hour long council meeting on Tuesday, June 18. Photo: Dani Brown.
FUTURE: Discussions about the District Council of Yankalilla's 2019-20 budget resulted in an almost five-hour long council meeting on Tuesday, June 18. Photo: Dani Brown.

Tempers flared between councillors and members of the public during heated discussions about the District Council of Yankalilla's 2019-20 budget on June 18.

The meeting was hostile at times as the council tried to balance how to relieve ratepayers' financial stress while still completing projects in the 2019-20 financial year.

Before approaching the topic of the budget, ratepayers gave deputations voicing their concerns and frustrations over council's rates.

"I'm speaking on behalf of the people earning under $30,000 a year. Rates should be at zero per cent till we catch our breath - it's called social conscience," one speaker, John Warren, said.

"There is an anger in the community. What we've seen tonight is the community saying, we don't want to put up with this any longer," another speaker, Winnie Pelz, said.

Councillor Ruth Trigg brought forward a number of motions on notice regarding the budget and rates, including a proposal for a zero per cent rate increase, which she based her 2018 council election campaign on. That motion was lost, 2-7.

Upon discussion of rates, some wanted to see an increase following CPI of 1.3pc, while others supported a 2.5pc rise to keep the operating deficit down.

Cr Trigg said having lower rates would help council connect with the community.

"We hear language of 'living within the means of council'; we need to live within the community's means," she said.

Councillor Davina Quirke said keeping the increase to 1.3pc would be "taking into consideration the stress the community is under", while Cr Bruce Spilsbury said council would be "looked on better" with lower rates.

Councillor David Olsson was on the other side, saying council was "weak" if it dropped to 1.3pc.

"If we default to 1.3pc, we have a deficit and we're not getting anything done," he said.

Mayor Glen Rowlands supported the 2.5pc increase, even though he was not comfortable with the resulting $460,000 deficit.

"There are lots of cuts and things have been changed to achieve this," he said.

A majority agreed upon the 2.5pc rise. The rate in the dollar is lower than last year, at 0.527954 - "if your property value did not go up, your rates will go down", chief executive Nigel Morris said.

One of the most talked-about items was $376,000 for eco structures, also known as 'glamping' tents, at the Jetty Caravan Park at Normanville.

"There's no synchronicity with the idea of 'glamping'; there's no view of the beach and they're next to a polluted creek you can't swim in or wouldn't even put a kayak on. The glamour part doesn't add up," Cr Trigg said.

This has been removed, along with the construction of the Yankalilla CFS car park pending state government contributions and the purchase of a new grader.

Funding cuts were made to proposed projects including the painting of the Visitor Information Centre, which will only have the inside painted instead of inside and outside, and upgrades of Apex Park were cut from $80,000 to $15,000, which will fund the watering system.

"It's not as if the building is being degraded; unless there are structural things we need to look at, I don't think there's an issue," Cr Quirke said of the VIC paint job.

The $250,000 set aside for the library was dropped to $25,000 as it was deemed more discussion was needed before moving forward with a permanent solution. The $25,000 will go towards minor improvements and more equipment which will be used "regardless of where the library ends up", according to Mr Morris.

Councillor Simon Rothwell said the library funding was a "good compromise and a big cut".

A new inclusion was the sealing of Charles Street and Symonds Street in Yankalilla, with down-stream stormwater issues to be addressed there.

Some funds from the road replacement program will go to roads along the Heysen Trail to go with the recent state government announcement of $6 million towards the trail and Deep Creek Conservation Park.

Also decided on was the sale of the CWMS and Wirrina water services to SA Water, which Mr Morris said would "dramatically reduce the costs of these services by over $700,000".

Those whose services are moving to SA Water will see on average lower prices, as SA Water uses state-based pricing.