How is the CPI calculated for our rates?

    The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a general measure of changes in prices of consumer goods and services purchased by Australian households including for example transport, food and non-alcoholic beverages, and communication. This is applied to rates to reflect a ratepayer’s ability to pay. 

    This differs from the Local Government Price Index (LGPI) which is a financial indicator for inflation applicable to the cost of goods purchased by Local Government entities, which is higher than CPI. In order to deliver a balanced budget Council would need to deliver efficiencies in its expenditure base. 

    What does the 1% additional levy fund? How long do we have to pay for it?

    Removal of 1% For Financial Sustainability - it should be noted that this version of the Annual Business Plan and Budget differs from prior versions of the adopted Long Term Financial Plan (LTFP) and Annual Business Plan and Budget in that the 1% previously included for the funding and debt servicing of major projects has been removed.

    Impact - The change will result in a rate payer with a property valued at $500k saving around $1,300 over 10 years, but removes around $23m from Council’s LTFP.

    How does Council decide how much to spend renewing footpaths?

    • Through a combination of formal audits, customer requests received and internal analysis, a number of high priority footpaths are identified for renewal each year.

    •  When we undertake this work we take into account the location, usage, connectivity, condition and typical useful life of a footpath.

    • How many paths we have and what the useful life of a footpath is assumed to be  guides us as to how much we need to spend each year to renew them.

    How does Council decide which footpaths are repaired and renewed?

    Council aims to undertake condition audits on footpaths every 4 years. This produces a score of the condition across the network, helping prioritise the worst condition paths and which need replacement.

    How can I see if my local footpath is included in this year’s Annual Business Plan?

    Click here for a searchable e-map that shows the individual projects included in this year’s capital works program.

    How do I see if any urgent work is included in the Annual Business Plan?

    Click here for a searchable e-map that shows the individual projects included in this year’s capital works program.

    What priority is given for surfacing or grading and improving rural roads? How can I find out when and if my local road is included in the program of works?

    Through a combination of formal audits, customer requests received and internal analysis, a number of high priority roads are identified each year.

    Click here for a searchable e-map that shows the individual projects included in this year’s capital works program.

    How will this year’s budget be affected by COVID-19?

    COVID-19  has affected Council’s residents and businesses. This has been considered in both the final quarter of 2019/20 and the first quarter of 2020/21. The changes incorporated in 2020/21 are expected to result in lower revenue than that  received in previous and future years. Lower associated expenditure is also anticipated which is expected to be offset by a reallocation of budgets to support those impacted by the pandemic.

    General Rates are forecast to increase by 1% in 2020/21, i.e. lower than the actual Australian CPI of 2.2% to March 2020, to provide some relief to ratepayers. General rates revenue has also been reduced to remit fines and interest on outstanding rates for the last three months of 2019/20 and first three months of 2020/21 for those suffering from hardship as a result of the pandemic. 

    User Charges and Other Income  are lower in 2019/20 and 2020/21 in consideration of the following:

    • Those services that cannot be accessed for example outdoor dining fees or services that cannot be provided due to restrictions, for example the Mount Barker Tourist Park.

    • Rent relief provided to selected tenants of Council’s commercial properties.

    Materials, Contracts & Other Expenditure: In 2020/21 expenditure has been reduced aligned with the reduction in revenue (as above). Budget has also been reallocated to provide support to residents and businesses.

    Please explain the difference between operating budget and capital budget.

    The Operating Budget identifies the amount of money Council will receive in income and spend on expenses in the course of its normal operating (non-capital) activities. The operating budget includes items such as rates, user charges, specific operating grant revenue, salaries and wages, utility and administrative costs.

    The Capital Budget  is the amount of money Council will invest in the creation of new assets or renewal/upgrade of our current assets. Associated revenue can include grant revenue supporting the delivery of capital projects or developer contributions.

    Why can’t we have a hard rubbish collection?

    A review is currently being undertaken to explore options for the delivery of hard waste services and the associated costs. The results of this review are expected to be taken to Council in early 2020/21. A decision about the funding and provision of such services would be taken following this meeting.

    What was the process adopted to formulate the draft budget?

    Operations Budget Build Approach: The Annual Business Plan 2020/21 involved discussions with each individual department to examine their costs – known as “bottom-up” budgeting - which required managers to explain expenditure and provide assumptions for revenue.

    Project Budgets Approach: Project charters (high level business cases) were developed for Capital Projects and new initiatives. These were reviewed by a cross council staff working group to rank their priority based on the strategic plan alignment, value for money and risk. Some of these projects may be delivered over multiple years while others impact only 2020/21.  The resulting draft priorities were further reviewed by the Senior Management Team.

    Council Member Review: Strategic and planning workshops were also held with Council to discuss priorities within the draft plan prior to the draft being finalised.   Council resolved the draft was suitable for consultation on 1 June 2020.

    Baseline Budget: The approach as detailed above was taken prior to the known impact of COVID-19 and considered as the baseline for the draft Annual Business Plan being issued for public consultation.

    COVID-19:  An initial estimate of the impact of COVID-19 on the provision of Council’s services and programs has been incorporated in the 2020/21 draft budget. It is anticipated that this will be refined via the Budget Review  process undertaken in the next financial year when more information is available.

    Why doesn’t Council engage with people about allocation of funds earlier than at budget setting time?

    Throughout The Year - Council staff engage with Council Members throughout the year to gather information on the allocation of funds and priorities. The public also provide inputs as part of public consultation processes such as those undertaken in recent years for the township plans. People also provide inputs via customer requests that are considered by Council staff.

    Long Term Financial Plan - For the 2021/22 budget process, Council staff will be engaging with Council Members to gather priorities for inclusion in the Long Term Financial Plan in August/September 2020, which will provide the road map and target for the allocation of funds for the budget.

    How can people make early input and suggestions for the budget before it is framed?

    Council Member Engagement - People can contact their Council Member who can forward any priorities at sessions held throughout the year for the Long Term Financial Plan and Annual Business Plan and Budget or alternatively directly to Council at any point during the year to

    Long Term Financial Plan - People can also provide inputs and suggestions as part of the public consultation process for the Long Term Financial Plan.

    Why do we need an operating surplus?

    Council requires an operating surplus, so that it can not only fund day-to-day operations and services for the community, but also fund the repayment of debt associated with planned Major Capital projects.