THE impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Bathurst Regional Council has been huge, with the draft 2021-22 budget extremely tight.
The operational plan for the next financial year will be discussed at an extraordinary meeting of council on Wednesday, with the resolution expected to be to place it on public exhibition.
The budget shows council was hit by COVID-19, with a loss of more than $136 million in income recorded.
However, there is still a budget surplus of $12,795, just $131 less than the previous year.
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Corporate Services and Finance director, Aaron Jones, said it was a difficult year to prepare a budget for.
Rate pegging, cost shifting, the take-up of additional services and the imposition of tasks on councils with no corresponding revenue have contributed to the "tight financial circumstances".
"The budget has been prepared with known COVID-19 effects. Council has considered various mayoral minutes throughout the course of 2020 and 2021 on the current effects of COVID-19 on its operations," he said.
"It is anticipated that the financial implications of the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to have a significant impact on the community and council.
"The budget process is becoming more difficult every year as the effects of large cost increases outside council's control are having a detrimental effect on council's ability to operate within its confined income levels."
The list of major projects in the draft budget also show council's restraint.
One of the biggest expenditures is set to be $2 million on the stormwater harvesting scheme.
Council has also allocated $2 million for solar panels at the wastewater treatment works.
The report on the budget flagged energy efficiency savings as one of the ways council is looking for "potential savings across all areas".
Just under $3.5 million has been allocated for a series of projects at the aerodrome, with more than $2 million of that dedicated to reconstruction works on a runway and additional leasable hangar space.
Plans to expand facilities at the Hereford Street sporting fields remain on the books from previous budgets, while there is reconstruction works planned for three fields at Proctor Park.
Council has allocated $220,000 for 2021-22, while there is another $2.3 million pencilled in for the following financial year.
Council has also allocated money to numerous community groups in the draft budget.
In total, council plans to provide more than $742,500 to outside organisations beyond its own operational requirements.
If council resolves to do so on Wednesday, the draft budget will be on public exhibition for at least 28 days.
During that time, members of the public can make submissions on the document, which will be considered prior to council adopting its budget in June.
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