Murray Bridge council plans greener city, no property rate rise in 2021-22

Here's what's in the council's draft budget for the next financial year, and how much it will cost ratepayers.

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Population growth and rising property values will let the Murray Bridge council spend $44.2 million on local services and facilities next year – without increasing property rates.

That’s the gist of the council’s draft budget for 2021-22, which was was released for public consultation on Tuesday.

The document laid out some of the big-ticket items the council plans to spend ratepayers’ money on over the next 12 months:

  • Riverfront improvements, including new features near Murray Bridge’s wharf and a pontoon at Long Island Reserve

  • More trees, plants and irrigation in parks, including a focus on the Casuarina walking trail in the Pathways estate

  • Better water management, including a recycled water system along Swanport Road and car park sealing at Johnstone Park and Le Messurier Oval

Monarto will get a discovery trail, an information bay, new signage, a signature event and potentially a permanent RV area.

At Wellington, the council will invest in new play equipment for Baker Reserve, a discovery trail, and better promotion of the town’s walking trails and strawberry fete.

The everyday projects ratepayers expect of their council will get taken care of as well, including:

  • $650,000 for upgrades to public buildings: Murray Bridge Bowling Club, the Brinkley Re-Use Centre, the council office, the Monarto Sporting Complex, the old railway buildings, the Senior Citizens Club, Wanderers Cricket Club’s rooms and basketball and horse riding areas at Murray Bridge Showground

  • $540,000 for new footpaths on Anerley Road; Humphrey, Phillips, Oxford, Lohmann and Cooke Streets; Myall and Kelly Avenues; and Ridgeway and Monash Terraces

  • $262,000 for kerbing and drainage works on East Terrace, Adelaide Road, Cooke Street, Kintore Avenue, around Chaucer Terrace and at the Adelaide Road and Bremer Road cemeteries

Almost $3.3 million will be spent maintaining local roads.

The council will also spend $30.2 million on services: maintaining parks and toilets, collecting bins, assessing property developments, and operating the Lerwin Nursing Home and Murray Bridge’s art gallery, town hall, library, youth centre and visitor information centre, among other things.

Key projects, including the Murray River Splash festival, will take up $2 million.

The average household’s property rates bill will go up by $35 in 2021-22, according to council estimates.

However, that will only be because of rising property values – the actual rate in the dollar charged by the council will not increase.

Next year’s big spend will come on the back of the record $26 million the council invested in infrastructure in 2020-21.

Recently completed projects include the Thomas Foods International access road, Adelaide Road linear park, regional rowing centre, Sturt Reserve trail head, Round House revitalisation, a new war memorial and upgrades to the city’s swimming centre, Lerwin Nursing Home and at Callington Recreation Park.

‘It’s a good plan’, councillor says

The draft budget was approved by councillors at a meeting on Monday night, with little fuss.

Cr Fred Toogood described it as a good plan for the coming year.

“I think the administration have done well with ... the anticipated rise in rates (revenue), which is very good, and the fact that there's a lot of new stuff going to happen,” he said.

“I think it should be fairly well accepted by ratepayers.”

Mayor Brenton Lewis said he was confident the programs, projects and services planned for 2021-22 would contribute to a sustainable future for the Murray Bridge district, in a financially responsible way.

He encouraged residents and ratepayers to take a look at the budget for themselves by visiting the council’s Let’s Talk website, and to speak up if there were areas in which the council could do better.

Councillors will receive public submissions at a meeting to be held at the council’s office at 6pm on May 31, and are expected to approve a final version of the budget on June 15.

Correction: An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect time for the May 31 meeting.

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