Planned budget savings will result in service cuts across Alexandrina

Reduced budget means service cuts: Alexandrina's elected members have signed off on a Draft Budget for 2020-21 which includes a 1.2 per cent rates rise. Photo: Mayor Keith Parkes.
Reduced budget means service cuts: Alexandrina's elected members have signed off on a Draft Budget for 2020-21 which includes a 1.2 per cent rates rise. Photo: Mayor Keith Parkes.

Budget saving measures identified as part of Alexandrina Council's draft Annual Business Plan and Budget 2020-21 will result in a cut to community services equivalent to $85,000 per year.

The service cuts include a potential reduction of hours at council facilities including libraries and less funding for community programs.

Pursuing these cuts has allowed the council to propose a 1.2 per cent rates increase, the lowest in Alexandrina's history.

A council spokesperson said the the draft plan reflects a commitment to help the region rebuild and recover from the impacts of COVID-19.

"The draft plan reflects council's commitment to maintaining and providing services and facilities that benefit our residents, ratepayers, visitors and natural environment," said the spokesperson.

Proposed service cuts include a review of library opening hours and models of service delivery to "balance community needs and demands in an efficient way".

Details of cuts to libraries are currently unconfirmed, but are expected to result in a variation of opening hours and savings of about $40,000 per annum.

Councillor Bronwyn Lewis who sits on the Libraries Board of South Australia has spoken out against these cuts.

"I believe cuts to these services should not happen without community consultation and peer review," Ms Lewis said.

"The current research by Uni SA, Local Government Association and Australian Libraries and Information Association all document the benefit of librarys to our community.

"The return on investment in dollar terms is $2.80 per dollar spent. I can't think of any other service to our community that gives this higher return on investment.

"I also note that according to the Hudson Howells report to the Local Government Association, 17.5% of South Australian households do not have internet access at home. Now more than ever we need to provide this service to the less advantaged in our community."

Further public facilities are also likely to be affected, with the council to conduct a review of "public conveniences," expected to result in further annual savings of $10,000.

Also in the firing line is the council's catering budget, with cuts estimated to create savings of $15,000 per year.

Three community programs will also be affected, with the council reducing their contributions to programs, events and the arts.

A $9000 reduction in the council's Community Donation Program is proposed, leaving the fund with $30,000 per year.

A reduction is also planned for the council's Public Art Budget, equivalent to $6000 per year, leaving a remaining $20,000 for public art each year.

The Goolwa Rotary Art Prize will also be affected, copping a 50 per cent reduction in council support, equivalent to $5000.

A full description of proposed service cuts is available within Alexandrina Council's draft Annual Business Plan and Budget 2020-21, which is on display at council offices and libraries; and can also be viewed online via: alexandrina.sa.gov.au

Feedback is encouraged through the council's My Say site via: mysay.alexandrina.sa.gov.au/ABP2020- and is open until July 6, 2020.