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Budget repair plans for Onk

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Staff Reporters

18 April 2024, 9:05 PM

Budget repair plans for OnkCity of Onkaparinga Mayor Moira Were.

Ratepayers in the City of Onkaparinga face a 6.8 per cent increase for the next financial year in the council’s proposed business plan and budget.

The plan also includes cost cutting and a pause on grants in an effort to bring the budget into balance.

A recent report from the Essential Services Commission of South Australia (ESCOSA) found the City of Onkaparinga’s financial position is potentially unsustainable.

The City of Onkaparinga’s draft Annual Business Plan (ABP) and Budget 2024–25 opens for community engagement from today, Friday 19 April, until 9am on Monday 13 May.

Mayor Moira Were says the focus of this year’s plan is on budget repair.

“Council has operated at a deficit for seven consecutive years, and we need to act now to return to a balanced budget as soon as possible,” Mayor Were says.

“The elected members, management and I are all working towards this goal, while ensuring we can continue to provide the services our communities need.

“We will still deliver $158.29 million in services, programs and asset maintenance, and $73.57 million in new projects and initiatives for the community.

“But, to develop the budget this year we’ve also had to make some hard decisions.

“We know some of these measures will impact people in the community, but they are vital to improve our overall financial position and ensure we can continue to deliver important and valued services to the community well into the future.

“This budget will also meet all key financial indicators set for the local government sector.

“This means delivering a surplus in our budget, committing to adequate investment in asset renewal, and ensuring debt remains within an acceptable range.”

  • The key measures implemented as part of the budget include: 
  • A rate increase of 6.8 per cent (noting Adelaide CPI in December 2023 was 4.8 per cent), plus rates from new properties.
  • Managing employee costs to achieve an additional $2.48 million in savings.
  • Managing costs within the council’s control such as contracts, materials and other expenses, which are budgeted to rise by less than SA’s current CPI of four per cent.
  • Recovering the full-service cost of the community wastewater management scheme.
  • Pausing the grants program for 12 months to review the way the program delivers the best value.

Onkaparinga CEO Phu Nguyen says the ABP and Budget was developed with reference to the February 2024 Essential Services Commission (ESCOSA) report, which identified challenges to council’s financial sustainability.

“We were already aware of the issues identified by ESCOSA and we’ve continued to actively address them in this budget,” he says.

“After seven consecutive years of budgets in deficit, the measures outlined in the ABP and Budget will return the council’s financial position to surplus.

“To achieve this, we had to thoroughly analyse the causes of historic budget challenges and be bold in exploring the budgetary options available.

“There are economic factors that are outside of our control such as CPI and interest rates. Those things affect our ratepayers, and they also affect council’s day-to-day work, so we must factor them in.

“The rising cost of living, post-pandemic recovery, inflation, existing commitments, workforce, and energy prices all needed to be considered.

“I was appointed as CEO in 2023 with a mandate to achieve tangible improvements in the council’s financial position and to drive this common objective.

“The ESCOSA report affirms we are pointed in the right direction and has independently confirmed our assessment of the situation,” Mr Nguyen says.

Go to the council's YourSay page for full details and to provide feedback.

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