Nearly $8 million will be lost from reserve funding over this financial year as the City of Karratha tries to drive economic stimulus in the region after the coronavirus pandemic. The City of Karratha passed the draft 2020-21 Budget last week with officers noting that by not increasing rates income, and because of additional COVID-19 related expenditure, the Budget could only be balanced with significant reliance on reserve funds. At a special council meeting held in March, councillors resolved to commit to freezing rates and fees and charges for the 2020-21 financial year as part of their $3m COVID-19 support packages. The 2020-21 Budget also includes a further $1.3m for COVID-19 Tranche 2 initiatives, including business grants, fee waivers and tourism incentives. The adopted rates model would see an income of $43,374,241 for the City. It was expected 57.6 per cent of revenue would come from areas other than rates. Fees and charges would drop by $2m to $37,545,656, while revenue from grants and subsidies would increase from $16m to $19,550,160. Overall the City was expecting a revenue of $107.9m with operating costs of $103m, a $12m increase on the previous year. City of Karratha Mayor Peter Long said revenue streams had decreased because of the coronavirus pandemic while operating expenses had increased. “Due to the City’s responsible economic management and strong financial position, we were able to draw on our reserves in order to freeze rates and fees this financial year,” he said. “Reserves are savings set aside for a rainy day and the first half of 2020 gave us a severe tropical cyclone followed by a global public health crisis so we are pleased to put these funds to good use as we look ahead.” Included in the 2020-21 document is a range of projects worth a total of $40.3m, including $7.6m to reconstruct Bayly Avenue and $2.6m to redevelop the Wickham Aquatic Centre. Mr Long said the City had worked hard to deliver a Budget that would fund more than 100 projects while freezing rates for ratepayers. “The pandemic impacted many projects included in the 2019-20 Budget, which we have carried over to this financial year,” he said. Major projects included in the Budget were $1.6m stage one Andover Park redevelopment, the Karratha Airport baggage handling system ($1.6m), and conservation works to Roebourne Heritage Precinct worth $1.3m. Overall a total of $16,940,376 was to be spent on community amenities, $43,887,123 on recreation and culture while $24,820,710 was to be spent on the construction and maintenance of roads, drainage, footpaths, parking facilities, traffic signs, and the aerodrome. Mr Long said there were 107 projects worth more than $40m that were planned to begin next year. “This is in addition to our annual programs, including expanding lighting networks, maintaining a growing number of sport and recreational facilities, delivering youth, community and waste services, and providing arts and cultural experiences and events,” he said. The net result of the draft 2020-21 Budget is a surplus of $133,683. Sitting fees and allowances for the mayor, deputy mayor and councillors were frozen for 2020-21.