Northern Grampians Shire Council has passed the 2020-21 Budget unchanged.
The budget is based on the vision outlined in the 2017-21 Council plan and describes council’s major projects for the coming financial year. Contained in the budget are details on where funding will come for projects and works and when it will be spent.
The diverse needs of the community are very much a priority and the complications caused by Coronavirus have been considered with a provision in the budget for a COVID-19 financial hardship policy. This policy provides up to $250,000 in financial support to the hardest hit segments of the community by waiving many fees, interest rates and property lease payments.
The 2020-21 budget includes a commitment to spend $13.4 million on roads and other infrastructure. A significant amount of the infrastructure budget is being supplied by Commonwealth and State funded grants.
Major projects include North Park and Stawell Park precincts, Great Western Future Plan, Stawell Housing Development, Lord Nelson Park Sporting Facility and upgrades to Stawell airport.
A highlight of the budget is the development occurring in the North Park precinct of much-awaited multipurpose clubrooms not unlike the infrastructure changes that will also be happening at Lord Nelson Park in St Arnaud.
The funding set aside for the Stawell Housing Development utilities and footpath infrastructure presents a glimpse of one of the most socially significant changes in housing for our region too.
Ratepayers will be relieved to hear that council endorsed a two per cent rate rise on the 9,367 rateable properties in the shire, which is in line with the rate cap set by the Minister for Local Government. There will be no change to the Farm Differential Rate for 2020-21 however Council has decided to reduce the discount provided to farms next year from 53% to 50%.
Northern Grampians Shire Council Mayor, Murray Emerson, was relieved to see the budget go through with no changes.
“I would like to commend the great work done by officers and staff to deliver a budget council is proud of and pleased to endorse,” he said.
“Despite the very difficult challenges this year has presented, I am quite proud of the lengths we are taking to ensure that our budget is community focused whether in the form of financial support for our more vulnerable members or in the provision of outstanding sporting and recreation facilities that can be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.”
Northern Grampians Shire Council CEO, Liana Thompson, said council has worked hard to ensure the budget took into account the changing economic circumstances and subsequent social challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have considered all of the responses received from the community and trust that this budget reflects that feedback and is fair, reasonable, and supportive of our diverse, vibrant shire”, she said.
“We hope that the social and financial support, the infrastructure improvements and the operational efficiencies laid out in our budget will well and truly assist our community to maintain a positive and resilient attitude during this particularly tough time for our shire.”
“We are looking forward to delivering what we expect to be significant improvements to the local economy and the lives of residents and visitors to the Northern Grampians Shire as we work towards a full recovery.”
A full copy of the budget can be downloaded from Northern Grampians Shire Council website at www.ngshire.vic.gov.au/budget