Budget deficit forecast but a bright future ahead
Glenorchy City Council has voted unanimously to adopt its budget for the 2020/21 financial year.
Due to the economic impacts of COVID-19, the budget forecasts a budget deficit of $9.6 million.
Prior to COVID-19, Council was forecasting a modest budget surplus, however over previous months, Council has had to adjust the focus of the budget, as the pandemic has impacted more and more on our community’s lives and our local economy.
Glenorchy Mayor Kristie Johnston said the pillars of next year’s budget were providing community assistance measures, through initiatives such as the COVID-19 Rate Relief announced last month, and increasing Council’s capital expenditure, to do our part to build the State out of the dire economic environment it is currently in.
“Our priority is, and always will be, to ensure we continue to deliver vital services to our community and to continue investing in things that will improve the lives of those within our community,” Mayor Johnston said.
“Our Council will continue to support our community through the post COVID-19 downturn, particularly those out there doing it tough, through social and economic recovery initiatives, and will invest in projects and infrastructure that will stimulate our economy, to build our way out of this pandemic, coming back from this even stronger than before.
To assist in this, Council has increased its capital works budget to $21.1 million – a $7.1 million increase on last year. This includes $3.4 million towards a range of economic recovery projects including developing a regional sport and recreation hub, relocation of the Southern City BMX Track and works that will support strategic investment in tourism, retail and hospitality precincts in the City. It is also planned to spend $2 million on road resurfacing across the city and put an extra $900,000 into the maintenance of our facilities, keeping local businesses in work.
Council’s operational expenditure will also be increased by $1.6 million, to $63.6 million, with almost all of that delivered in the form of COVD-19 community assistance measures, including $1.5 million in operational spending towards Council’s economic recovery projects such as Activity City, Green Shoots Glenorchy, as well as the development of the city’s new Arts and Culture Strategy, and fostering a creative workforce hub.
Council is also spending $1.9 million on the COVID-19 Rates Relief Rebate, announced last month, which will ensure the amount our ratepayers pay for rates and charges stays the same as their last rates bill. Every ratepayer will automatically receive this rebate and will be able to see it on their rates bill.
Mayor Johnston said that in addition to the increases in the amount of money Council is spending, Council’s revenue will take an $8 million hit as it combines the cost of delivering the rebate with other community assistance measures, like reducing the rent on properties Council owns and waiving interest on overdue rates, as well as losing more than $2.3 million it would normally receive from its stake in TasWater.
“While we are now looking at a forecast $9.6 million deficit, we are confident we will ride out this storm and come back stronger than ever. We are made of tougher stuff in the Northern Suburbs, we have endured tough times before, and we will again,” Mayor Johnston said.
“When we passed our special COVID-19 Community Assistance Package last month, I promised that we would take a slow, steady and planned approach to returning to a budget surplus over time. I stand by this position. This budget is the first step in our recovery and balances our need to support our community through these tough times, with its right to see your money spent on projects and programs that improve our city and the lives of our residents.
“Our Council will share the burden of recovering from this crisis with our community. We will weather this storm and, together, work to build a better Glenorchy.”