Alexandrina Council's elected members have adopted an annual business plan and budget for 2021/22, two weeks after voting the original document down, following concerns over council spending and debts.
The updated document which includes a rate increase of 2.7 percent was put before elected members on Monday evening, July 19, and was narrowly supported five votes to four.
It virtually mirrors the previously proposed budget, but requires that by June 30, 2022, council administration present a report identifying savings "in the order of $200,000 that can be implemented by council [as part of a budget review following a workshop to identify savings] to reduce the operating deficit to $602,000."
It also provides for an additional contribution of $87,000 to the Goolwa Community Centre.
In favour of the budget adoption and rate declaration were councillors Bradford, Gardner, Stewart, Keily and Maidment. Against were councillors Lewis, Coomans, Farrier and Carter, while councillors Rebbeck and Scott were absent.
The adoption of the annual business plan and budget first required a motion to rescind the elected body's July 5 decision not to pass the document, which likewise passed five votes to four in identical fashion.
Cr Rex Keily who tabled the rescind motion, said the draft 2021/22 annual business plan and budget had gone out for public consultation and "came back with a fairly minimal amount of comment from the ratepayers".
"I think it's the appropriate way forward," he said.
Cr Craig Maidment supported the motion and said he was confident council staff would be able to identify savings.
Cr John Carter argued that a "full days workshop be urgently scheduled to resolve this impasse" and said "there are a number of things" he would like to question further.
This was a view supported by Cr Bronwyn Lewis who said it was "fiscally irresponsible to accept the budget until we've drilled down further".
The adopted budget sets an operating deficit of $802,000; an operating deficit ratio of 1 percent; a net financial liabilities ratio of 91 percent; and additional loan borrowings of $4.0 million.
The 2.7 percent rate increase equates to $46 per annum for the average assessment.
As part of public consultation held between May and June, council received just 28 formal responses to the draft annual business plan and budget, a decrease from previous years. This number equates to only 0.2 percent of Alexandrina ratepayers.
A number of major projects are factored into the budget including Strathalbyn Town Centre streetscape upgrades, and the redevelopment of the Goolwa Oval and the Goolwa Wharf Precinct.