RICHMOND Valley Council’s $60 million budget for 2019-20 features an $18.6 million investment in capital works to improve and maintain vital infrastructure and amenities for the community over the next 12 months.
Alongside significant investments in road maintenance, waste management, water infrastructure and public amenities including parks, playgrounds, and sporting facilities, Council’s 2019-20 budget projects a cash surplus of $200,896, followed by continued surpluses in the subsequent three years through to 2022-23.
Richmond Valley Council Mayor Robert Mustow said he was pleased that the 2019-2020 budget would see Council continue a program of improving community facilities along with maintaining roads and other essential infrastructure.
“Council is delivering on the commitments we made to the community in the Richmond Valley Made 2030 Community Strategic Plan. This budget balances continuing to deliver projects while managing increasing expectations for the services that Council is delivering,” Mr Mustow said.
Council’s General Manager Vaughan Macdonald said the 2019-20 budget would help maintain and improve essential infrastructure, services and amenities to the level expected by residents.
Mr Macdonald said Council’s ability to responsibly fund its commitments was underpinned by the four-year special rate variation recently approved by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Authority (IPART). After extensive community consultation Council applied to IPART for a four-year special variation to increase its general income by 5.5% per annum for each year from 2019-20 to 2022-23.
“The special rate variation will fund an enhanced program of both renewals and improvements to our infrastructure over the next four years,” Mr Macdonald said.
“We are delivering exciting projects across the entire Richmond Valley and with this renewal comes higher service level expectations from our community. This budget and our plans will enable us to deliver and provide the platform for the continued improvement of the Richmond Valley’s reputation as a great place to live, work and play.”
Key community projects scheduled for 2019-20 include upgrades of Casino’s Queen Elizabeth Park sporting complex, the enhancement of Stan Payne Oval and improvements to beach access at Evans Head, and completion of the Woodburn Riverside Park playground and central hub.
Funding of $40,000 for Coraki and $20,000 for Rappville is included for community projects to be identified in consultation with these communities.
Mr Macdonald said the delivery of a surplus was also essential, and achieved despite the increase in non-controllable costs including wages, State Government emergency services levies, electricity, road-base materials, fuel, machinery costs, and insurance premiums.
Major projects for 2019-20 include:
• Queen Elizabeth Park sporting complex enhancement $336,000
• Stan Payne Oval sporting facility enhancement $105,000
• Woodburn Riverside Park playground and central hub area $200,000
• Evans Head beach access enhancement $186,000
• Fencing for Evans Head off-leash dog area $25,000
• Roads to Recovery program $701,000
• Road Rehabilitation projects $1,000,000
• Casino-Coraki Road $490,000
• Industrial land acquisition $2,000,000
• Canning Dr residential land construction $800,000
• Nammoona Landfill – Cell 6 Planning & Preparation $105,000
• Nammoona Landfill – Cell Capping $623,000
• Bora Ridge Landfill – Cell Capping & Transfer Station Construction $1,246,000
• Illawong Lane Evans Head CBD drainage upgrade $213,000
• Other stormwater capital works $225,000
• Sewer relining program $800,000
• Evans Head water supply booster pump station improvements $200,000
• Evans Head Sewerage Treatment Plant fixed sludge dewatering $250,000
• Plant and Fleet Replacement Program $2,521,000
The 2019-20 budget also includes the following increases to rates and annual charges:
• Domestic Waste Annual Charge – to increase by 15% to $564
• Non-Domestic Waste Annual Charge – to increase by 15% to $593
• Waste Infrastructure Charge – to increase from $30 to $40 – this charge was introduced to contribute funding towards the construction of a new landfill cell (essential infrastructure) at the Nammoona Landfill and to fund ongoing asset renewals of the Waste Management program
• Water Annual Charges – to increase by 5%
• Sewerage Annual Charges – to increase by 2.7%
• General Rates – to increase by 5.5% in-line with the approval of the special rate variation
Mr Macdonald said waste management was Council’s biggest challenge with costs sky rocketing in all areas.
“The increases to waste management charges have been necessary due to the introduction of a waste levy by the Queensland Government of $75 per tonne, with Council’s landfill waste currently being transported to Queensland,” Mr Macdonald said.
“This levy now almost matches the NSW Government levy and Council has no choice but the pay this levy and is required to pass on the cost to residents with a waste service.”
In addition, recycling costs have doubled, as well as costs involved in the future construction of a new cell at the Nammoona Landfill facility for landfill waste.
Mr Macdonald said Council was continuing to investigate alternative options for waste management, such as an Energy from Waste facility for the region, with the hope that it could delay the costly investment in a new landfill cell.
But he said waste management was a complex and increasingly costly business, and Council needed to ensure it allocated sufficient funding for it into the future.
The Draft Revised Delivery Program 2017/2021, Draft Operational Plan 2019/2020 (including Draft Financial Estimates 2019/2023), Draft Revenue Policy 2019/2020 and Draft Long Term Financial Plan 2019/2029 will be placed on public exhibition from 22nd May until 19th June.
During the exhibition period, submissions from the community can be forwarded to the General Manager, Richmond Valley Council, Locked Bag 10 Casino NSW 2470 or to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copies of the draft documents are available for inspection at Council’s Customer Service Centres in Casino and Evans Head, or can be viewed and downloaded from Council’s website here.