Junee Seniors met with GM regarding Special Rate Variation
Mr James Davis, General Manager Junee Shire Council, was delighted to receive an invitation to a Senior Citizens weekly meeting to explain the pros and cons of the proposed Special Rates Variation (SRV). About 15 people attended the meeting and while anxious about the proposed rate increases, the audience was provided with sufficient infomration to help them respond to the current community consultation.
“Council is facing a serious decision-making point: how to fund additional money into roads which have been suffering from under-expenditure for a number of years.” Mr Davis said. “The value of our road network is about $105M and the Council has to clearly demonstrate how we renew those assets over their expected life. This is the responsible thing to do and what our community expect of us (Life expectancy for roads varies and can be as high a s 100 years). This is not a discussion about maintenance (potholes). We manage that ok, it’s about renewal. We are not renewing our road assets enough to keep them at a satisfactory level. If we underspend on renewal this year, let’s say $400,000 then next year the renewal gap will be $800,000 and so on in future years. While we might not notice the decline in our road network now or for a few years, at some point it the near future we will and we will not have the funds to fix the problem then – it will simply be too large of a problem financially to fix.”
There are two main choices, either increase rates or reduce level of service in other area so that funds can be redirected into the road network. The Community has been very understanding when considering rate rises. The community survey in 2006, 2009 and 2013 all indicate that around 70% are prepared to pay a little more in rates to keep the same levels of service. Be that as it may, the Council still wants to provide an opportunity for community comment on this issue. That is why the community SRV newsletter was sent out to every house and business in the Junee Shire. The newsletter explains the financial position the Council is in, what service may be cut if the SRV does not go ahead, and the efficiency and productivity improvements that have occurred at Council over the last decade.
Shortly IRIS will be conducting a telephone survey to ask people how they feel about the proposed increases or reducing service levels. Three options for consideration are available and we would encourage residents to consider them carefully.
|1||Decline||This is a business as usual approach where Council would normally accept rate rises linked to the rate peg, notionally around 3%. With a reduction of approx. $240,000 from the expiring 2009 SRV. In DECLINE,major reductions to levels of service would occur.|
|2||Maintain||This scenario has been in the public domain for a number of years, having been deferred on several occasions during that period. It allocated all of the Special Rate Variations revenue above the rate peg amount towards road renewals and reseals. Over the 10 year cycle Council would progressively be able to fund road renewal and reseals to bring road assets to a satisfactory condition.|
|3||Improve||In the IMPROVE scenario, road renewals and reseals in MAINTAIN are included, with added items that are consistent with the Community Strategic Plan. This will support community infrastructure such as the Broadway Museum, Athenium and Junee Recreation and Aquatic Centre.|