Budget still in the red

Budget still in the red

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Even minor rates relief for residents of the City of Canning is as far away as the 2025/26 financial year, after council adopted its $177 million budget last Tuesday night.

The budget includes a $43 million investment in projects and capital works, including revitalisation projects such as the Queens Park Open Space and City Centre developments, and significant upgrades to the city’s road and footpath networks and playgrounds.

This financial year marks the second of a three-year plan to achieve a net reduction in operating expenditure (OPEX) of $3 million per annum.

Since the city’s Long Term Financial Plan was adopted in 2021, $2 million in savings have been achieved, with the 2022-23 Annual Budget providing a further reduction in OPEX of $0.5 million

However, this belies the fact the city is still in a tenuous financial situation, operating at a deficit.

In fact, it has been over 10 years – specifically the 2010/11 financial year, since the city last reported an operational surplus.

Overall budget surpluses have been reported on four occasions since, but these were achieved through the value of land sales.

Mayor Patrick Hall said the city’s long-term financial plan forecasted achieving an operational surplus in 2025/26, with the city currently $1.38 million in the red.

“While the city will have achieved its cost reduction program by the end of 2023-24, the introduction of new services (such as the State Government’s requirement for an additional organics bin) requires a capital injection that delays achieving an operating surplus in 2024-25,” he said.

“After getting to a surplus position, the city is forecasting a more moderate rate increase in comparison to previous years.”

The mayor has already boasted that, compared to other Local Governments, this years’ rate rise of 4.65 per cent, Canning remains one of the lowest rating local governments across the Perth metropolitan area.

“Due to increasing cost pressures, most metropolitan councils have a proposed rate increase of between 4 per cent to 6 per cent per annum for the 2022-2023 financial year.

“In the City of Canning, average residential rates will go up by 4.65 per cent, still well below the current Perth CPI of 7.6 per cent.

“We understand people are doing it tough right now and I want to assure you, our community, that council and the city administration will continue to prioritise strong economic management and will focus on providing you with value for your rates. We believe that this budget achieves these outcomes.”

Public consultation regarding the rate rise received 134 public submissions, the vast majority urging the city to reconsider the rise.

The city did not rate the public submissions as being for or against any variation in differential rates.