Council delivers financially responsible budget

Published on 01 July 2020

old council chambers

Kiama Council has finalised its Operational Plan for 2020-21, which ensures the continuation of all programs and services, despite the financial challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

General Manager Kerry McMurray said the Operational Plan represented a balance between the need to maintain services to our community, and the financial responsibility required to meet NSW Government benchmarks.

“Our community depends heavily on many if not most of the programs and services Kiama Council provides,” Mr McMurray said.

“I’m pleased that we have been able to continue to deliver those programs and services, despite the significant challenges COVID-19 has thrown at us.”

Mr McMurray said continuing to provide these services and programs would come at a cost, with a budget deficit of $1.5 million forecast for 2020-21.

He said while the deficit was unfortunate, the strong position of Council due to its Long Term Financial Plan, ensured it was relatively small compared to many other councils.

“Despite everything that has happened to us in the last year, beginning with the drought and bushfires, and now COVID, we will still meet 6 of 7 NSW Government benchmarks.”

“Our Long Term Financial Plan wasn’t designed with a global health pandemic in mind, but we are in much better shape than many of our neighbours.”

Mr McMurray said the relatively modest deficit was also made possible by a disciplined and collaborative approach to cutting costs by staff and senior management.

“Our staff have shown a great resilience during the COVID pandemic, including their desire to continue services their community rely on.”

“That community-mindedness certainly made the difficult exercise of finding savings inside Council that little bit easier.”

Mayor Mark Honey has thanked Mr McMurray and his staff for providing a strong Operational Plan, despite the circumstances.

“The financial responsibility shown by our Council in recent years means our community will still benefit strongly from the programs, services and projects set out in this Operational Plan,” Clr. Honey said.

Clr Honey said he was particularly pleased, despite the economic circumstances, Council was able to avoid job cuts. 

He also said hardship provisions and pensioner rebates would continue, recognising the challenges faced by many ratepayers. 

Highlights of the Operational Plan 2020-21

A new capital works program worth $3.3 million:

  • $480,000 for holiday parks, including Werri Beach Holiday Park redevelopment
  • $250,000 for car parking and pedestrian safety
  • $275,000 for footpaths and cycleways, including Minnamurra Bike Skills Track.

A renewal (maintenance) program worth $11.8 million:

  • $593,000 for improvements to community halls
  • $212,000 for playground replacements
  • $642,000 for recreation facilities
  • $173,000 for upgrading the car park at Bonaira Playing Fields  
  • $941,000 for road resurfacing.
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