Council has today released its draft Municipal Plan which contains its budget for the coming financial year.
It makes official the proposed zero rate rise for 2020-21 and the Covid-19 hardship response measures previously reported.
Maintained at last year’s level, rates are expected to deliver $22m+ to council coffers.
However, the forecast for 2021-22 at $24m+ is predicated on a rate rise, of 5%. (Rates make up some two thirds of council’s revenue.)
User fees and charges will also go up by 5% in 2021-22, the draft plan suggests.
Council’s Covid-19 hardship waivers of commercial rates has been supported by NT Government funding, and there is a contingency amount in its own Covid-19 budget provisions should that demand be high.
For non-commercial ratepayers there is a $1m relief package, details of which are still being finalised.
Council still expects to deliver on its key projects for 2020-21. These are the Alice Springs Master Plan; the Youth Hub ($470,558 budgeted); the FOGO recycling initiative, involving collection and composting of “Food Organics, Garden Organics” ($205,000); and public parks refurbishment (Ashwin, Madigan and Tucker; $3m+ for parks, gardens and ovals).
Tree planting and maintenance, which has not been council’s forte over the last few years, has an allocation of $715,539. A planting target of 60 trees a month has been set (but then it’s a matter of making sure they live).
$2.7m has been allocated to capital projects. The larger items are the road and footpath network ($657,000) and upgrades to council’s information, communications and technology ($672,000).
$230,000 will be put into library refurbishment; $100,000 into the Regional Waste Management Facility; and $50,000 towards public art projects (two).
In his message, CEO Robert Jennings speaks of “the devastating economic impact of COVID-19 on our community”.
Of council’s response, he says: “The combination of border closures, financial restrictions and physical-distancing measures has offered our staff an opportunity to revisit many of Council’s traditional approaches and to reassess its goals and priorities for a post-COVID municipality.”
He highlights council’s recent Reflect Reconciliation Plan 2019-2021 which “focused on consolidating and strengthening connections between non- and Indigenous colleagues, with realistic targets and strategies for further recruitment from the local Indigenous community”.
These are among the goals to keep an eye on in the coming year.
The plan is available on council’s website and at the front counter in the Civic Centre and is open for public comment until 23 June.
– Kieran Finnane
Last updated 2 June 2020, 1.12pm