City of Victor Harbor adopts its budget after scrutiny by elected members.

City of Victor Harbor Mayor Moira Jenkins.
City of Victor Harbor Mayor Moira Jenkins.

The City of Victor Harbor adopted its "ambitious" 2019/20 Annual Business Plan and Budget at a special council meeting on Monday, July 8. The budget was delivered, but not before it had opposition from elected members Peter Charles and David Kemp.

City of Victor Harbor Mayor Moira Jenkins said the $39.2 million budget reflected the council's commitment to ensure Victor Harbor remains a great place to live, invest and visit.

"It is ambitious, but achievable. I believe the people of Victor Harbor have been wanting to see a budget like this for many years. If we want others to invest in Victor Harbor, we need to invest in Victor Harbor ourselves."

The budget includes the delivery of one of the biggest capital works programs, worth $11.2 million and operating expenditure of $28 million resulting in a break even position. The Budget is ambitious because it has identified 285 Key Performance Activities (KPAs) for council to achieve during the next 12 months.

Two major projects to be undertaken in 2019/20 include the completion of Stage Two and start of Stage Three of the Victor Harbor Mainstreet Precinct Upgrade. The council will also transition to LED streetlighting, with almost 1700 lights changed over to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by around 200 tonnes per year.

Other projects include progression of the Arts and Culture Centre project, completion of the Fleurieu Cruise Ship and Boating Tourism Planning Study, improvements to the Bluff Boat Ramp and preparation of a Disability Access and Inclusion Plan.

Due to significant capital valuation growth, the council has been able to maintain its differential rates at 2018/19 levels.

A $40 increase to the fixed charge component of council rates means that properties that have had no change to capital value since July 1, 2018 will pay $40 more for the year. If the capital value has changed, rates will be an extra $40, plus an additional amount based on the increase in capital value as determined by the Valuer General.

However, councillors David Kemp and Peter Charles did not support the $40 increase of the fixed charge component in the budget.

Cr Kemp moved a motion for council's fixed charge to remain at $350 and not rise to $390.

"The City of Victor Harbor over the next few years will be developing plans and making decisions on major projects and even with Grants and Government's support, will still cost the rate payers of Victor Harbor millions of dollars," Cr Kemp said.

"I believe this council has to be prudent on how we move forward to provide a benefit to the community by not spending every cent we raise on activities, which may have lesser value. Council has the responsibility to its community to prioritise its expenditure on the must do, should do and the could do.

"The must do's are the Legislative requirements, the should do's are the value added programs and the could do's are projects of lesser value to the community as a whole. To achieve the current projects currently listed and the new initiatives that will come to council, we will have to borrow money and this will increase the debt of this council. It sets us up for failure," Cr Kemp said.

"This council needs to be proactive from this day onwards to approve budgets, which will provide a surplus to decrease our debt so we can fund our future projects and not become a burden on our community with increased rate rises to pay for it. By not raising the fixed charge it would show great restraint and leadership by council."

Councillor Peter Charles supported Cr Kemp's motion to not raise the fixed rate.

"My personal belief is that the level of dissatisfaction will rise after the arrival of the resident's rate notices. We cannot impose a greater demand on people's limited funds when one of our council objectives is 'an innovative council empowering the community'," Cr Charles said.

CEO Victoria MacKirdy was optimistic that the KPAs could be achieved. "We have a new senior management team that has the professionalism and energy to look at achieving our KPAs and I thank all elected members for their input," Ms MacKirdy said.

The Annual Business Plan and Budget is available at www.victor.sa.gov.au/abp or at the Civic Centre.

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