Murray River Council adopt 2020/21 budget

By Anna McGuinness

MURRAY River Council will be operating at a $1 million loss after passing it’s 2020/21 budget at last week's council meeting.

The overall draft deficit of $1,209,938 is largely the result of council co-contributions towards capital works projects, some of which are only 50 per cent funded.

MRC chief executive Des Bilske said the shortfall was not overly concerning.

“It’s a managed process and our capital works budget has been higher than normal the past two years,” he said.

“The deficit is just a reduction in cash available. It’ll be built up again in the next few years.”

In 2019/20 the council’s capital works budget was $46 million, this year it will be $30 million, whereas it would normally sit around $16-17 million.

Mr Bilske said the higher budget was due to funding special projects associated with merging of the two councils and the NSW government providing more funding to local governments.

“This budget is a balanced combination of capital projects, renewal spending and upgrade spending,” he said.

“The activities forecast in the plans directly respond to the key priorities of the community, while also continuing to maintain service levels.”

The adopted budget is based on an average rate revenue increase of 2.6 per cent in ordinary rates including new standardised rating categories.

It also includes a total capital works program of $31,976,287.

The deficit will deliver a reduction in the council’s working capital to an anticipated level of $8.4 million at June 30, 2021.

The draft budget, along with information on the proposed new rating categories was on public exhibition over the last month.

There were several community submissions to the draft budget relating to support for the Moama Pre-School development, along with road maintenance and works requests.