Federation Council has pushed forward with the introduction of an eight per cent rate rise with a warning the long term impact of the hike hasn't been fully absorbed by farmers.
The council on Tuesday endorsed its 2021-22 draft budget, which has been framed on a six per cent special rate variation and the two per cent rate peg, with formal ticking off on the increased rate take expected later this month.
Cr Fred Longmire said farming communities had accepted the big rate increase in the short-term, but it came at a time when they were already paying extra rates due to the recent spike in farmland values.
"In 10 years time I think people will be paying twice as much in rates," he said.
"A lot of it has been driven by outside money and not family farms buying their neighbours.
"The other side of the equation is they want to see better amenities, especially their roads."
But his assertion the council was already over-spending to the tune of $1 million per year was downplayed by director Jo Shannon, who flagged a report could be compiled showing how it was tracking in service delivery against budget.
The 2021-22 budget forecasts revenue of $42 million against expenditure of $43.2 million, resulting in an operating deficit of $1.2 million.
Residential rate income, 46 per cent, remains the council's biggest source of revenue, closely followed by rural rate income at 44 per cent with the balance coming from businesses.
The big ticket item for council next financial year is the Corowa saleyards redevelopment which is largely bankrolled by a $9.2 million state government grant.
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Mayor Pat Bourke said the council still had historic low rates despite the special rate increase.
"We are working together to reduce costs and make things as efficient as possible," he said.
"The pressures coming on council and not in everyones' faces are things like the NSW fire levy which is really important, especially for our rural communities.
"You get a fire in those paddocks at harvest time you need that protection in place.
"We are trying to increase our roads budget all the time, but they cost a lot of money and we rely on outside finances."
In the current financial year the council is paying $562,000 towards the fire levy with a $157,000 contribution from the state government.
The levy has been set at $567,000 in 2021-22 with no government contribution confirmed yet.
General manager Adrian Butler said the council had come through a major growth period, helped along by external funding following the merger of the Corowa and Urana shires.
"We've come off the back of a massive capital works program with all the grants," he said.
"But I think we are all looking at slowing the pace a bit on the big ticket items and getting back to some of our core work.
"Our ongoing service delivery is of a really high standard and people recognise that."
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