GAWLER Council’s 2020/21 budget is now open for public consultation, with residents having until Wednesday, August 5, to have their say on council’s financial plans.
The draft budget includes a 2.4 per cent rate revenue rise, which would generate around $530,000, which will be handed back to eligible ratepayers as part of a rates remission scheme.
To be eligible for the rate remission, residential ratepayers will need to prove they lost more than 30 per cent of their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, or are currently receiving the Job Keeper payment.
For commercial ratepayers, their business will have to had lost more than 30 per cent of its income, or been closed down as a result of the pandemic.
Eligible ratepayers will be able to apply to have up to 25 per cent of their general rates discounted for the financial year.
Mayor Karen Redman said the council had “gone to considerable lengths” to find ways to support ratepayers in the draft budget.
“The council is aware that there are both businesses and individuals who are experiencing significant financial hardship as a result of the pandemic, and we have developed a series of financial measures to help those ratepayers in most need during these challenging and difficult times,” she said.
“Some other councils are simply electing to not increase their total amount of general rates collected, or are proposing to simply ‘freeze’ their rate-in-the-dollar determined by council, the latter of which provides no relief at all if property valuations have increased,
“The one-page application form to be completed has been designed to be as simple and straightforward to complete, but nonetheless each applicant will be required to provide certain independent data in support of their application.”
The council is also proposing a $2 million spend on infrastructure projects, including $200,000 to upgrade local sporting precincts.
Much of council’s expected expenditure is set to be financed with borrowed money, with total debt set to increase by $4.7 million.
Ms Redman said borrowing rates were at “all-time lows”.
“Due to our ongoing prudent treasury management, council is in a position where we can borrow this additional amount without severely compromising our longer term financial sustainability or our longer term financial aspirations,” she said.
Elected members endorsed the draft budget at a special meeting last Wednesday.
During debate on the motion, councillor Brian Sambell said council had done a “great job” in generating the budget.
“I applaud this budget,” he said. “I definitely think we’re going to be able to move forward.
Gawler residents can have their say on the draft budget by heading to Gawler Council’s website.