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Budget repair plans for Onk
Budget repair plans for Onk

18 April 2024, 9:05 PM

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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Yank council resignation triggers by-election
Yank council resignation triggers by-election

17 April 2024, 9:02 PM

The District Council of Yankalilla has paid tribute to outgoing Councillor Bill Verwey, who has stepped down for personal reasons.“Throughout his tenure, he has represented Council on numerous committees, demonstrating great commitment to his role and to the community.”Mr Verwey was first elected to the council in a supplementary election for Light Ward February 2020.He was subsequently re-elected in the regular local government election in November 2022.Chief Executive Officer Nathan Cunningham has expressed his appreciation for Mr Verwey’s service.“On behalf of the District Council of Yankalilla, I sincerely thank Cr Verwey for his dedicated service to our community and I personally wish him well in tackling his next challenge.”The vacancy resulting from Cr Verwey’s resignation will trigger a supplementary election in Light Ward, which is the urban ward of the council, covering Yankalilla, Normanville and Carrickalinga. It is usually represented by five councillors and the rural ward, Field ward, is represented by four councillors.The supplementary election for the Light Ward vacancy will be held in July, with enrolment for the voters roll closing at 5pm on Tuesday 30 April.Nominations to run for council open on Thursday 23 May and will be received until 12 noon on Thursday 6 June.A candidate briefing session will be held on a date to be confirmed in late May.The election will be conducted by post, with voting packages sent out through the mail with a reply-paid envelope. to be returned no later than 12 noon on polling day, Monday 22 July.

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Causeway Clydesdale dies
Causeway Clydesdale dies

17 April 2024, 2:30 AM

One of the Clydesdales that pull the horse-drawn tram over the Granite Island causeway has died.The horse, Isabella, was euthanised on Monday 15 April following complications associated with Ross River Virus.Seven of the other eight horses in the Clydesdale team have also tested positive to the virus in the past four months.The popular tourist attraction is run by the Victor Harbor Horse Tram Authority, a subsidiary of the City of Victor Harbor.Its team of Clydesdales pull the tram that carries passengers across the causeway to Granite Island, usually operating several services every day except Christmas day.In a statement the council says the tram team is devasted at the loss of the much-loved horse.“Ross River Virus is a mosquito-borne illness that is common in many regions across Australia. It can cause similar symptoms in horses as it does humans. “Isabella had tested positive for the virus several weeks ago, initially experiencing a high temperature. Over time, she also suffered loss of appetite and neurological decline. “In line with advice from vets as symptoms worsened, Isabella was transported to Mt Torrens where she was able to receive specialised, intensive veterinary care for the past three weeks. “Unfortunately, a continuing decline in her health and the discovery of colic lead to the difficult veterinary decision to euthanise Isabella and put an end to her pain.”The council says the other horses are improving in condition and expected to make a full recovery.“While recovering from the virus, these horses have not been operating the Horse Tram.”The tram has been operating on a reduced timetable while the horses have been ill and this will continue as they recover. Visit the tramway Facebook page for more information.

Help offered to grape growers
Help offered to grape growers

16 April 2024, 2:30 AM

Wine grape growers across the state who are experiencing challenges due to the current oversupply of red wine grapes will soon be able to access additional support. The Rural Business Support Relief Fund will assist by providing financial support with immediate grants to those eligible of up to $1,500 to accommodate routine costs. This will be in conjunction with business financial planning. The support aims to alleviate stress for grape growers, who have felt significant impacts owing to market disruption, severe weather events and natural disasters. A further $60,000 in funding is also being provided to Rural Business Support to increase Rural Financial Counselling Services for the wine and viticulture industry. The ethephon vineyard resting trial will also be extended to the next vintage to give growers time to make considered business decisions. By applying this growth regulating chemical, grape growers will be able to potentially save up to $2,000 per hectare in input, water, and management costs. Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Clare Scriven says the wine industry has been heavily impacted by disrupted market conditions and global over-supply.“I was delighted to see the lifting of the tariffs from China on Australian bottled wine.“The removal of tariffs has been welcomed by our grape-growers and wine industry.“The State Government is also supporting the wine and viticulture industry through a $1.85m re-engagement package that will assist the industry re-position South Australia as a market leader in China.” For more information on support for wine grape growers in South Australia visit the website.    

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Hopeful signs on childcare shortage
Hopeful signs on childcare shortage

15 April 2024, 8:33 PM

Finniss MP David Basham has highlighted the childcare shortfall on the Fleurieu and offered some hope to those affected.In a Facebook post the state Opposition MP says a critical shortage of childcare is consistently raised with him across his electorate.“Childcare providers informed me there is an up to 2-year waitlist for children to attend. “With cost-of-living pressures facing families and local businesses needing workers, this is a severe pain point affecting many in our community.”Mr Basham gave details of four prospective childcare centres, three in Goolwa and one in Chiton.He says construction has started on one in Goolwa, an 80-child capacity facility on Hutchinson Street.Another in Goolwa and the Chiton facility have been granted planning approval, while the third Goolwa centre is under planning assessment.Mr Basham says that this won’t provide an immediate solution for families currently on a waitlist needing childcare but he is pleased there is some hope.“Unfortunately, this complex problem is not unique to our community but is felt in regional areas nationwide… particularly in children within the 0-2 age group. “Many factors contribute to a childcare service shortage, such as staff, location, infrastructure and regulations.”Mr Basham says his office will continue investigating opportunities to improve the situation and urges anyone with concerns to share their stories to help inform decisions. Contact the office by email or phone 8552 2152.

Funding for shorebird and wetland habitat
Funding for shorebird and wetland habitat

15 April 2024, 2:48 AM

The federal government has committed $17 million for a new project to improve shorebird and wetland habitat across South Australia's Coorong, Lower Lakes, Murray Mouth and South East landscape.Located at the base of the Murray River, the region is home to internationally recognised wetland that supports a diverse range of plants and animals including the endangered Australasian bittern and the vulnerable sharp-tailed sandpiper.The federal and state governments will work together to deliver the project, building on habitat restoration activities already underway in the region.The funding will:Deliver a range of localised infrastructure on wetland and floodplain flats to increase the area and duration of quality shorebird and wetland habitat.Maintain food webs and improve critical breeding habitat for foraging waterbirds and other threatened species.Improve outcomes for waterbirds and strengthen Australia’s commitment to international obligations including the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance.The South Australian Department for Environment and Water will work closely with relevant community groups, landholders and Landscape Boards to develop a regional approach to habitat restoration targeting smaller wetlands that cumulatively have a large impact and create a connected mosaic of habitats across the region.The integrated project will also work with First Nations groups to connect to Country and meet cultural obligations while ensuring the survival of healthy shorebird populations and vital wetland habitat.Federal Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek says restoring the Murray Mouth, Lower Lakes and Coorong is a critical investment in the health of the whole system.“The Murray-Darling Basin is a vital for our communities, farmers and First Nations groups, and we must also work together to protect and restore wetlands within the Basin.“This new project will ensure the survival of our internationally significant wetlands and the plants and animals who call them home.”

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Hills and Fleurieu roads worst for regional speeding
Hills and Fleurieu roads worst for regional speeding

14 April 2024, 8:38 PM

The top 10 regional sites for drivers caught speeding by both fixed and mobile speed cameras has been revealed by RAA – with half of them located in the Adelaide Hills and a third on the Fleurieu Peninsula.According to 2023 SAPOL data, the worst location in regional SA for drivers caught speeding was the fixed camera at Crafers on the South Eastern Freeway, which nabbed 7,012 motorists and cost drivers $3,985,553.In fact, the top four regional fixed cameras were all located on the South Eastern Freeway in the Adelaide Hills – three of them point-to-point cameras.Victor Harbor Road, from Whites Valley to Tatachilla, was the only Fleurieu location in the top ten for fixed cameras, at number seven, recording 344 offences at accost of $187,880.Of the worst mobile camera spots in regional SA, Ironbank Road in Ironbank clocked 772 speeding drivers at a total cost of $407,036. On the Fleurieu Battunga Road, Meadows, came in at seven; Paris Creek Road, Paris Creek, at nine; and North Terrace, Port Elliot at 10.Again, five of the top 10 regional mobile locations were located in the Adelaide Hills, with three on the Fleurieu, prompting an RAA plea for drivers to stick to the speed limit as school holidays begin.Charles Mountain is RAA Senior Manager Safety & Infrastructure. He says exceeding the speed limit by even a small amount increases the risk of a serious crash.“Excessive speed is one of the fatal five causes of road trauma – and contributes to 30 per cent of fatal crashes on our roads,” he says.“The list of regional fixed and mobile speed cameras shows thousands of drivers are either deliberately or inadvertently driving faster than the speed limit in our regions.“Other roads in the Hills may have lower traffic volumes and it may be tempting to creep over the limit – but doing so puts other road users at risk.“Drivers need to be aware that even small increases in speed mean you will travel a longer distance before you can react and bring your vehicle to a stop if something unexpected occurs on the road.”Mr Mountain says approximately 70 per cent of lives lost on SA roads occurred in the state’s regions.“We must remember to drive to the conditions and at a speed that allows us to safely respond to unexpected situations or come to a safe stop if required.“It’s also still important to be vigilant near schools even during the holiday period as some will be offering holiday programs so children may be present, particularly during drop off and pick up times.”Top 10 regional SA fixed speeding cameras – 2023 Location Type Offences Fines (incl. VOC Levy)South Eastern Fwy, Crafers Mid Block 7,012   $3,985,553South Eastern Fwy, Nairne to Callington Point to Point 1,239 $729,008South Eastern Fwy, Callington to Mt Barker Summit Point to Point 799 $462,301South Eastern Fwy, Nairne Point to Point 724   $414,315Port Wakefield Rd, Port Wakefield to Two Wells Point to Point 698 $417,773Port Wakefield Rd, Two Wells to Port Wakefield Point to Point 620   $363,833Victor Harbor Rd, Whites Valley to Tatachilla Point to Point 344   $187,880Dukes Hwy, Coonalpyn to Ki Ki Point to Point 319   $183,714South Eastern Fwy, Callington (west) Mid Block 252   $150,222Dukes Hwy, Ki Ki to Coonalpyn Point to Point 244 $141,316Top 10 regional SA mobile speeding camera locations – 2023 Location Speed Limit Offences Fines (incl. VOC Levy)Ironbank Rd, Ironbank 60 772 $407,036Kersbrook Rd, Kersbrook 80 678 $371,628Onkaparinga Valley Rd, Verdun 50 602   $267,373Sutton Ave, Mount Gambier 50 588 $230,321Alexandrina Rd, Mount Barker 50 496 $208,287Haylock Rd, North Moonta 50 428   $228,912Battunga Rd, Meadows 50 426   $207,083Murray St, Nuriootpa 50 410   $176,151Paris Creek Rd, Paris Creek 80 363 $205,045North Tce, Port Elliot 50 308   $118,569

Light up as the sky gets darker
Light up as the sky gets darker

12 April 2024, 9:22 PM

Thousands of drivers and riders are being caught without appropriate lights, prompting an RAA reminder about road safety as daylight savings ends.Last year SA Police caught 6,078 drivers in the dark without effective headlights – the highest number recorded in the past decade and a 38 per cent increase on the year prior. In 2023 police also caught 4,513 cyclists riding without appropriate lights at night or a rear reflector, sparking an RAA reminder to light up when visibility is low. Failure to do so risks a fine of $382 for drivers and $165 for cyclists. Crash data also shows vulnerable road users can be at higher risk of a crash when days are shorter, with pedestrian casualty crashes jumping by 24 per cent in autumn and winter between 2018-2022.RAA Senior Manager Safety and Infrastructure Charles Mountain says shorter daylight hours make now a great time to have a conversation about road safety with loved ones.“Drivers need to ensure their headlights are in working order and book their car in for a service if they have any concerns.   “A clean windscreen both inside and out can greatly improve vision, as can new windscreen wiper blades.“Motorists should also be extra alert for cyclists and pedestrians using the road, as they may be harder to see from a distance in the darker months. “As always, it’s important to drive at a speed that allows you to stop if required. When there is lower visibility such as at night or during wet conditions, the appropriate speed may be slower than the speed limit.  “Cyclists need to ensure their bike has a red rear reflector on it at all times, and when riding in low visibility such as at night or heavy rain, a working white light on the front of their bike and red light on the back. “Pedestrians should also pay attention whenever they’re crossing the road – use designated crossings when available and don’t assume drivers have seen you.” For more on RAA road safety initiatives visit the website. 

Paisley and Alfie are looking for their forever homes
Paisley and Alfie are looking for their forever homes

12 April 2024, 8:00 AM

Meet our lovable Pets of the Week. They are looking for their forever homes thanks to the RSPCA Lonsdale Shelter. RSPCA are currently running at 50% OFF adoption drive at their Lonsdale shelter until Sunday!Alfie and Paisley are this week’s friendly Pets of the Week. These loving animals are waiting to find their perfect family. If you think that could be you, read more about them below.Dog of the Week – AlfieThis amazing boy is Alfie (AID 187255) and he’s one of many dogs patiently waiting at RSPCA South Australia’s Lonsdale shelter to find a happy home.Alfie is a favourite at the shelter, and for good reason. He’s the sweetest gentleman and a cuddle bug at heart.This young lad loves to nap in the sun and soak up attention from his favourite people.An active boy indeed, Alfie enjoys playing with enrichment toys, running around, and splashing in the water (no wonder he needs a good recharge nap after). This handsome boy does enjoy socialising with other dogs, but he loves attention more, so he’s not keen on sharing his furever home with another fur-resident. Alfie would make the pawfect addition to a loving family. Read more about Alfie and learn how to adopt him.Alfie the gentleman. Photo: RSPCA Lonsdale.Cat of the Week – PaisleyThis gorgeous girl with captivating eyes is Paisley (AID 186425) and she’s currently living at RSPCA South Australia’s Lonsdale shelter while she waits to find her happily ever after.Paisley is a beautiful kitty with a big heart. A young lady, she can be a bit shy around new faces, but with a little patience and a lot of love, she’ll be your furever friend in no time.Paisley is a foodie, so Dine treats are a good way to speed up the ‘getting to know you’ process. She would love to live in a quiet home where she can relax and live her best life.This darling girl is open to sharing her home with another fur-resident, but a slow introduction is required to ensure a smooth transition.  Find out more about Paisley and how to adopt her.Beautiful Paisley. Photo: RSPCA Lonsdale.Visit the RSPCA Lonsdale Shelter and add a new companion to your life – you won’t regret it.The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) South Australia is the state’s oldest and largest animal welfare charity.

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