Community meet for the future

Talking about the future at Edward River Council.

Edward River Council (ERC) continues to affirm its solid financial position amidst the Federal Government inquiry into the sustainability of local government, convening its first Community Session on its Draft 2024-2025 Operational Plan and Budget.

The meeting in early May at the Deniliquin Town Hall drew approximately 20 engaged community members who took the opportunity to discuss Council’s financial sustainability and ask questions on next year’s operational plan and budget.

The meeting provided an opportunity to emphasise the prudent financial management strategies employed by Council. In addressing questions on financial stability, ERC Interim CEO Gary Arnold reinforced Council’s robust financial position and underscored its commitment to bolstering long-term sustainability.

“The Draft Operational Plan and Budget represent our dedication to delivering essential services and fostering community development,“ said Mr Gary Arnold.

“But we are also still refining the budget to bring it into balance and reduce spending on items such as fuel and vehicles. While work is ongoing, we have so far found savings of $1.25 million.”

Key highlights of the draft Operational Plan include: Completion of remaining flood repair works; Enhancements to ensure a safe and reliable water supply; Implementation of a three-bin waste collection service, integrating recycling and FOGO (food organics, garden organics) management under a regional contract and facilitation of the September local government elections, including support for potential candidates and an induction program for the incoming Council members.

Despite fiscal challenges, ERC’s budget forecasts an operating surplus, demonstrating prudent financial management and strategic allocation of resources. The Council is committed to delivering essential services while maintaining fiscal responsibility.

“We acknowledge the concerns raised by Murray River Council to the Federal Government’s inquiry, and we are committed to addressing similar challenges within our area. We are planning for an operating surplus but, like all small rural councils, we are still reliant on capital grant funding to be able to maintain our assets like roads, water and sewer,” said Mr Arnold.

“Our focus remains on delivering tangible benefits to our community while ensuring long-term financial sustainability. And we believe we are on track to achieve just that.”

Edward River Council commissioned a review into its financial sustainability in early 2023.

It adopted the report with nine strategies to implement over the medium to long term, aimed at shoring up Council’s ability to support growth and renew asset infrastructure for the community. A number of those actions have been included in the draft 24-25 Operational Plan for implementation.