Murray Bridge council rates will go up by 6.9 per cent this year – here’s why
The city’s councillors have finalised their draft budget for 2023-24. Here’s how they plan to spend your ratepayer dollars.
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Rising property values will again mean higher rates bills for Murray Bridge residents this year, the city’s council has confirmed.
Ratepayers’ bills are expected to increase by 6.9 per cent to an average of $1946 in 2023-24, according to the council’s draft budget.
That’s because rates are calculated based on local property values, which have gone up by an astonishing 18.2% over the past 12 months.
The council will actually decrease the rate in the dollar being paid by property owners for the second year in a row – but only by 10.1%.
Acting CEO Heather Barclay said the council had to keep growing its revenue because of “unavoidable” increases in the cost of materials and contractors.
“Much like the increasing cost of living impacts on our community, council is experiencing similar uplifts in the price of doing our core business,” she said in an introduction to the draft budget.
Pensioners and other residents dealing with financial hardship will continue be able to apply to the council for relief with their rates bills.
Councillors split on how big the rate rise should be
Council staff had originally proposed to increase rates by an extra 1%, in line with inflation.
But most councillors said that was too much for a community already coping with skyrocketing rents and mortgage repayments.
“I think … we all need to be looking at what we can save as a council,” Cr John DeMichele said.
Cr Fred Toogood agreed, saying “tough times call for tough decisions”.
Cr Clem Schubert went into bat for rural property owners, in particular, whose rates bills might already go up by thousands of dollars.
Only Karen Eckermann and Mat O’Brien were in favour of the bigger rate increase.
Many ratepayers wouldn’t miss $23 a year, they suggested; but they might miss the “significant and meaningful” grant programs, desexing and microchipping discounts, and trainee employment that would have to be cut to save an extra $298,000.
How will ratepayers’ money be spent?
Council spending in 2023-24 will total $50.7 million, but it is planning fewer big projects than in recent years.
The long-term redevelopment of Murray Bridge’s riverfront will continue with the refurbishment of the wharf to better accommodate tourist boats and visitors.
The council will also establish a long-anticipated business hub in the CBD: a shared office space for start-ups and other small businesses, as well as flood recovery staff and the council’s economic support people.
It will spend nearly $3.4 million fixing local roads, $350,000 on playgrounds, $300,000 on public toilets and $227,000 on footpaths.
It will also aim to return a surplus of almost $1 million.
The Essential Services Commission of South Australia – which reviewed the draft budget for the first time as part of a new, state-wide initiative – described it as sound, reasonable and measured.
How would you describe it?
Have your say: Visit letstalk.murraybridge.sa.gov.au, the Murray Bridge council office or Murray Bridge Library before 5pm on June 20; a public meeting will also be held at the council office at 7pm on June 19.
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