THIS year's Orange City Council budget will go into deficit by almost $1.3 million in the hope of stimulating the economy against the COVID-19 downturn.
The draft, which was approved for public exhibition on Tuesday night, plans to spend $78.9 million on capital projects in the coming year, funded by a mix of already-approved government grants, council reserves, property sales and loans.
Orange Mayor Reg Kidd said a larger commitment to infrastructure would help the Orange business sector recover.
"Even before the COVID-19 crisis struck, there were signs the whole country was beginning to slow economically," he said.
"These are all key pieces of infrastructure, so spending this money now will boost the capacity of our local economy to generate jobs."
In addition to the sporting precinct, stormwater harvesting expansion, gallery expansion and the CBD upgrade, Cr Kidd said there would be a priority placed on building more footpaths and upgrading older paths.
"This spending will be good for the economy as well as improving neighbourhoods."
The proposed budget includes plans to increase spending on footpaths from the current level of $450,000 this year to $900,000 next year.
The budget includes plans to spend a further $1.35 million on footpaths during the following two years, plus $900,000 for new and refurbished playgrounds.
The $1,294,992 projected deficit is the first for number of years, but Cr Kidd pointed out the council's annual turnover was $150 million.
"[The deficit is] largely because of the drop in revenue from having to close a number of council facilities because of the community health crisis," he said.
"We could have dealt with that shortfall by cutting back on spending, but now's not the time for that if we want our local economy to be ticking over as we potentially come out the other side of this crisis."
The draft has allowed for a $1.8 million loss in revenue next financial year from child care centres, closures of the civic theatre and aquatic centre, as well as the reduction in airport landing fees and parking fines
A number of properties have already been marked for sale including residential sites, the old saleyards site, blocks at the Narrambla industrial estate and the remainder of the old hospital site.
Rates will rise by 2.6 per cent along with the rate cap, equating to $62.22 a year or $1.20 a week for residents and $133.47 a year or $2.57 a week for businesses.
Residents can visit the YourSay Orange website to leave comments, complete a short survey and find out more about the budget.
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