TAMWORTH Regional Council has given the green light to a budget that includes $45 million in capital works for the next financial year.
But while the operational plan remains balanced for the next four years and forecasts a surplus of $542,000 in 12 months’ time,
general manager Paul Bennett said it didn’t mean the organisation wasn’t operating under financial constraints, like so many other councils across the region.
“(The plan) caters for what council ‘can do’ in keeping with the overall aim of fiscal responsibility,” Mr Bennett said.
“However, this allows only for growing operational requirements – financial constraints mean there is still a widening gap between the amount of funding needed and the amount of funding actually spent on the maintenance and renewal of assets, and no capacity to address renewal backlogs or community enhancements.”
Mr Bennett said the council was working to address the asset renewal gap through a variety of cost-cutting measures, prudent management and ongoing efficiency reviews – but, a rate increase over and above the pegged amount, could be on the cards in the future.
“Further community engagement is planned about capital improvements, to assess the willingness and capacity for various options of service levels and funding, which may include a proposed special rate variation to fund specific projects,” he said.
Five councils across the region had special rate increases approved for next financial year in a bid to address looming financial problems.
The operating plan was endorsed by councillors at Tuesday night’s meeting and includes for the 2014/15 financial year
$20 million for road and transport infrastructure maintenance, and $4.8 million of renewal works on local sealed and gravel roads.
Just under $9 million in Roads and Maritime Services funding has been allocated for upgrading state roads including the Oxley Highway from Edith to Bass streets and Manilla Rd from Johnston St to Lemon Gums Dr.
Council’s Timber Bridge Management Strategy will continue with $1.7 million for the replacement of eight bridges, as well as $2.5 million for an upgrade of the instrument landing system at
Tamworth airport, $1.5 million for the Manilla Water Treatment Plant, $3 million for the Forest Road waste management facility works and $1.9 million for sewer main reconstruction and rehabilitation.