Safe and sound: Mayor says conservative budget sets up shire’s future

May 08, 2018

CAMPASPE Shire has continued to tighten its belt with its proposed $84.4 million 2018/19 budget.
But it is still in the black — posting an overall surplus of $159,000.

And Rochester and district will see a lot of that money. 

Although due to the continual restraint of the Victorian government’s 2019/19 rate capping of 2.25 per cent mayor Adrian Weston said this had to be a ‘‘conservative’’ budget. 

‘‘Yet we are still delivering all of our services and we continue to pour money into our capital works program,’’ he told the Campaspe News.

“The budget has been carefully prepared over the past six months with councillors and staff.

‘‘It is a conservative budget but I believe it is financially responsible and comprehensive, supporting services and capital projects.’’ 

The budget links to the foundations of the four-year council plan. 

‘‘But it is also in line with our long-term financial plans, which sets us up for future years really well,’’ Cr Weston said.

‘‘This rate capping could hurt a lot of councils but we have done some great work in the lead up, and planning has got us to this budget.’’

The budget details a range of new key initiatives to be completed across the year.

“This highlights how council is working towards achievement of its vision — we are strong, supportive, vibrant and sustainable,” Cr Weston said.

Some initiatives funded through the budget include:

■Working with the State Emergency Service to develop an evacuation plan for Rochester.

■Developing and implementing a community education program to support the introduction of a food organics waste service.

■Developing a flood study for Echuca, Moama and Torrumbarry.

Cr Weston said the council has many financial challenges.

‘‘These challenges include our reliance on grant funding, which changes year to year, increasing external costs such as electricity, as well as a large asset base to maintain,’’ he said.

‘‘But one major positive is that we have only increased our waste charges by 1.5 per cent, which I would say is one of, if not the, lowest increase across the state.’’

Fees and charges have also increased at varying rates to reflect council’s progression towards a cost recovery model.

But it is the capital works program that the mayor said most residents want to know about. 
‘‘It is the tangible things happening in front of them,’’ he said.

‘‘It is a road here or a service there that help the community.’’

Some highlights of the $28.6 million capital works program are:

■$10.9 million to roads, including $2,520,160 gravel resheeting of local roads, $1,490,000 resealing of local sealed roads and $527,000 Lockington Road, Diggora blackspot improvements. 

■$3 million to bridges, including $400,000 for bridge works program shire-wide.

■$539,377 to recreation and leisure, including $31,000 Lockington Recreation Reserve oval fencing and $109,000 Rochester Swimming Pool repainting. 

■th$1.4 million to footpaths and cycle paths including $400,000 footpath replacement program shire-wide.

■th$2.1 million to drainage including $206,000 Ramsay Street, Rochester, drainage works between George to Charles Streets and $107,500 for the upgrade of stormwater pumps.

Members of the public are invited to make submissions on the proposed 2018-19 budget in writing by 5pm on Tuesday, June 5.

An online submission form is available from council’s website.

Council will consider public submissions at a special council meeting on Thursday, June 7.

The 2018-19 budget will be considered for adoption at council’s monthly meeting later that month. 

Copies of the proposed 2018-19 budget are available on the council website or at any of council’s customer service centres.

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