|Draft budget features modest rate rise, commitment to core business |
Colac Otway Shire Council’s 2011-12 draft budget is framed around a proposed 5.5 per cent rate rise – the lowest in five years.
Mayor Brian Crook described this year’s budget as a “no frills” document, with a solid commitment to infrastructure renewal and core business.
Cr Crook said the draft budget outlined a $12.55 million investment in capital works, which included $8.9 million for the renewal of assets including roads, bridges, drainage, footpaths, parks and gardens and buildings.
Under the proposed budget released by Council for community comment, Council would collect $21.7 million in rates and charges in the 2011-12 financial year, up $1.3 million on last year.
The proposed 5.5 per cent rate rise would equate to an average $78 extra per average rates assessment.
The waste management charge will be $271 for properties receiving weekly garbage collection services, and $183 for properties receiving fortnightly or monthly services.
The 2011-12 capital works spend of $12.55 million includes sealing 830 metres of Sinclair Street South at the cost of $288,000, funded by a special charge scheme.
Council has allocated $665,000 to drainage, including $165,000 for drainage upgrades in the township of Apollo Bay.
A $500,000 investment in Council’s bridge rehabilitation program includes an upgrade to a bridge on the Gellibrand Road at Stephenson’s Falls which currently has a load limit. The upgrade will allow heavy vehicles to use the bridge.
Also included in the draft budget is an extra $210,000 in the Cosworks operational budget, which will go towards additional positions to bolster the outdoor crew’s capacity to do essential asset maintenance such as roadside slashing.
Big ticket projects on the agenda include an upgrade to the Bluewater Fitness Centre stadium, which was a Federal Government election commitment.
Council has allocated $2 million for the project in this financial year, with the balance of funding to come in future years, subject to government funding.
Another new infrastructure project in the pipeline is an extended and upgraded building to house Apollo Bay’s library, at a cost of $200,000 for this financial year. The facility will be located on land owned by Otway Health and Community Services.
In the 2011-12 financial year, Council will develop a masterplan for the former Colac High School site, using $45,000 of funding from the Victorian Government and $15,000 from ratepayers.
Council will spend $110,000 upgrading public toilets at Birregurra, $50,000 establishing a public carpark in the Forrest township, $25,000 on playground renewal and $30,000 as Council’s contribution to the country football and netball program.
Cr Crook said Council strived to provide the best possible services to the community for the lowest possible rate rises.
He said this year’s budget maintained a modest financial position and was a step forward in Council’s bid to improve the long-term viability of the organisation.
“For the fourth year running we are on track to achieve an operating surplus, illustrating our commitment to reducing our dependence on grant funding,” Cr Crook said.
Cr Crook said Council faced increasing demands from the community and state and federal government, which required additional resources.
He said a landfill levies bill introduced last year meant Council had to find an additional $388,000 per year for future landfill rehabilitation.
“The extra $388,000 is equivalent to two per cent of the rate rise,” Cr Crook said.
“We are facing increased cost shifting from both levels of government, our community is also expecting more, and as such, budget time is always challenging because there are more worthwhile projects than there is money.
“Despite those challenges, I believe this budget has managed to maintain our financial position, while delivering on core business as well as some important community projects.”
The draft 2011-12 budget is available for viewing at www.colacotway.vic.gov.au or by visiting Council’s Colac or Apollo Bay customer service centres.
Comments on the budget close Monday, June 6 at 5pm.
April 20, 2011