Cowra community invited to comment on Council's future plans

Mayor of Cowra, Cr Bill West and General Manager of Cowra Council, Paul Devery with the Draft Delivery Program 2017/2018 to 2020/2021 and Draft Operational Plan 2020/2021 which is now on public exhibition for the community to provide feedback.
Mayor of Cowra, Cr Bill West and General Manager of Cowra Council, Paul Devery with the Draft Delivery Program 2017/2018 to 2020/2021 and Draft Operational Plan 2020/2021 which is now on public exhibition for the community to provide feedback.

Long term infrastructure projects, such as the West Cowra and Wyangala sewer systems, Low Level Bridge repairs and Billimari drought supply project remain a key focus for the coming year, with Council's latest draft delivery program and operational plan now on public exhibition.

All members of the community are encouraged to review the Draft Delivery Program 2017/2018 to 2020/2021 and Draft Operational Plan 2020/2021 and provide feedback to Council by Friday, June 12, 2020.

Cowra Mayor, Councillor Bill West said the current health situation was addressed in the plans.

"The COVID-19 pandemic is a significant challenge for our community and council operations are no exception. Council is watching developments closely and will respond to the changing circumstances as required," he said.

"This operational plan and the associated long term financial plan have been developed with the aim of continuing to deliver the range of services and facilities expected by the community and where required, lobby government for support for businesses and individuals to ensure we emerge from the pandemic in as strong a position as possible."

Other objectives council aims to deliver over the period include, working with the NSW Government in planning for the redevelopment of Cowra Hospital, supporting the retention and expansion of activities at Cowra Agricultural Research Station, pursuing funding for items identified in the Village Action Plans that form part of the Local Strategic Planning Statement and liaising with Water NSW as the planning for the raising of Wyangala Dam wall progresses with a particular emphasis on ensuring the Reflections Holiday Park is retained and indeed expanded.

Council will also advocate for initiatives that provide greater security for water supply in the shire and undertake a review of water and sewer charges in conjunction with this long term water planning.

Councillor Judi Smith said council faced a number of "big ticket items" within the next four years and forecasting showed negative territory for some sections of the budget.

"Those are things that are manageable and are due to very expensive items that we need to do, that are in the pipeline next year and the few years following on," she said.

"Those are all budgeted for and they will come out of those particular sections, I think people who have a good look at this will see we don't have a lot of money to play around with if we want to make the improvements that are necessary and that will add to the amenity of the shire."

Cr West agreed, saying council did not have the same capacity state or federal government did in running deficit budgets.

"It is fully responsible of this council to continue to increase our charges in accordance with the CPI and rate pegging so we are able to provide the community with the services and infrastructure for growth," he said.

"I think that we are showing some leadership doing that, to not do that as some people might suggest and not increase our fees, charges and rate would put council both this year and in future years behind the eight ball quite significantly.

"So I think this is something that we need to make sure the community fully understands."

Cr West also said that while water and sewer charges were clearly identified in the documents, part of the 2020-21 operational plan was to investigate a Water Cycle Management strategy.

"The community will certainly be made aware of what council's plans are both short term and long term and where that expenditure should go," he said.

Cr Peter Wright said water charges were important to look at.

"The price of water can not be just looked at between one town and another, because every town has a different operation system to deliver water and they can be a different way through a redevelopment plan," he said.

"As the mayor said about this upcoming review of our water, we will be ensuring these services are delivered at the best possible price to the users," he said.

The documents will be on public exhibition in the foyer of Cowra Shire Council, 116 Kendal Street Cowra, during ordinary office hours, 8.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday and on Council's website at www.cowracouncil.com.au.

Copies have also been provided to village progress associations in the shire.

All submissions must be made in writing to the General Manager, Cowra Shire Council, Private Bag 342, Cowra, 2794, or via email to council@cowra.nsw.gov.au by 4pm June 12, 2020.