Council budget on the money

THE end-of-year report card is in, and Orange City Council remains in the black with a surplus of almost $25 million.

But decreased grants and increased staff wages and expenses brought the surplus down by about 22 per cent on last year’s $31.4 million.

General manager Garry Styles said the council had ended the year in a solid financial position and delivered a high level of service, in his review of the council’s annual report 2012/13 released this week.

As well as delivering an operating surplus, Mr Styles said the council’s debts remained well below benchmark levels, outstanding rates fell and total assets passed the $1 billion mark in value for the first time.

“Managing that amount of infrastructure is not without challenge and this annual report illustrates the extensive breadth and complexity of council services,” he said.

RATE CAP FALLS SHORT FOR COUNCIL

The council made about 8 per cent or $2.735 million more from rates and charges this year compared to last year, with the income increasing from $30.875 million to $33.610 million.

The biggest increase to rates and charges income was for domestic waste management charges, with the council making $5.14 million - about 39 per cent or $2 million more than last year when the income was $2.14 million.

Some of the council’s major tasks achieved for the year included the opening of the long-awaited north Orange bypass, beginning of work on the Orange Waste Project at Ophir Road and Euchareena Road, and the airport expansion.

Mr Styles also highlighted the $8 million expanded road works program, continuing the work from 2011/12 and more than doubling the council’s historical roads budgets. 

This year the council also agreed to go ahead with raising the Suma Park Dam wall by one metre and had the $47 million Macquarie Pipeline approved.

Amendments to the Local Environment Plan (LEP) cleared the way for land re-zoning to add 1800 to 2000 housing lots to the city’s urban land supply.

Mr Styles also singled out the council’s $400,000 allocation to the community sector including childcare, aged care and residential services benefited Orange financially and boosted the city’s “social capital”.

It cost ratepayers around $250,000 to operate the four childcare centres, after-school care service, vacation care, family day care and supported play group services.

But because the services attract $4.14 million income from government subsidies and fees, for every $1 spent the community benefits 17-fold from services and wages, Mr Styles said.

clare.colley@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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