Elliston aiming for surplus

THE Elliston District Council will focus on maintaining and replacing its existing assets rather than building new ones over the next 10 years, according to its revised long-term financial plan.

The council released its 2018 to 2027 long-term financial and asset management plans for public consultation last month.

The council plans to increase rates by 3 per cent a year, excluding CPI, for the next three financial years. 

Elliston council chairman Kym Callaghan said a rate increase of this size would ensure the council moved from its underlying operating deficit of $21,000 to a break-even result by 2019.

He said the council was working toward a small surplus of about $180,000 by 2021.

“Local government’s not a bank, we shouldn’t be sitting on millions of dollars but losing grants, like the Financial Assistance Grants, has had a big impact on us in the past,” he said. 

“We need a small surplus there in case something unexpected happens – it just gives the council and our ratepayers more security.”

Mr Callgahan said once the surplus had been achieved, rate increases would be restricted to CPI only from 2021 onward unless the council decided to build new assets and there were no other revenue streams available. 

The long-term financial plan said grant revenue to build new assets would only be pursued and accepted if the new assets had “strategic significance”, particularly if the council had to contribute any money.

Mr Callaghan said there were a number of important projects in the council’s budget, like the Locks Well staircase, but the council did not want to “cripple ratepayers” to pay for them.

He said the council always aimed for a balanced budget but also wanted a sustainable level of service delivery.

“We’re always seeking funding for projects throughout the district,” Mr Callaghan said.

“We are in a position where we need to focus on maintaining and upgrading what we’ve got and the plan we’ve got takes all that into account.”