Conservative budget readies council for new opportunities

Wodonga Council has put forward a conservative budget for 2021-2022, balancing the need for long-term stability while striving towards new Council Plan priorities and opportunities.

Following a zero rate rise last year, the draft budget includes a 1.5 per cent rate rise in line with the Victorian Government rate cap.

The average ratepayer faces an increased cost of about $1 per week.

Overall, the average residential ratepayer is paying almost $25 less in annual rates than they were four years ago.

Wodonga Mayor Kev Poulton said the draft budget reflected the need for sustainability and to support the community following a challenging 2020, while taking the next steps towards the future for Wodonga.

“This is a responsible and frugal budget that is all about maintaining the services and infrastructure our community needs and keeping that up the standard our community expects,” Cr Poulton said.

“It is a solid and sound budget that sets us up for the future, to deliver the new Council Plan.”

Cr Poulton said assets continued to be well-managed and renewals fully funded, with more than $6 million for community facilities in the 2021-2022 year, now and in the long-term capital plan.

Council debt continued to be well-managed and was rated as low risk by the Victorian Auditor General, he said.

Cr Poulton said the draft budget also provided provision for the council to buy land and buildings in Kendall St, which it leases and uses for a depot.

“Through public consultation on a range of topics for the Council Plan and other consultations over the past several years, the community has told us what is important to them,” he said.

“We’ve used that feedback from the community to develop this draft budget and Council Plan and now the next step is for people to their say on these important draft documents.”

Key capital projects in the 2021-22 draft budget

1. Baranduda Fields

$5.2 million to continue developing the first stage, which includes two turf soccer fields, a soccer pavilion, an AFL ground, two netball courts, shared paths, change rooms and public toilets

2. Converting street lighting to energy efficient LED

More than $1 million investment in more than 1000 LED lights, which are more energy efficient and require less maintenance

3. Transformational opportunities

$300,000 to progress transformational opportunities, such as Gateway Island masterplan actions and improving the Bonegilla township

4. Wodonga Hills

$100,000 for barbecue facilities, shelters, toilets, seating and walking and bike trails

5. Energy efficiency

$30,000 to improve environmental sustainability and energy efficiency at various council-owned premises – work expected to pay for itself within five years

How $100 in rates is spent in the Wodonga community

– $31 is spent on capital works

– $16 is spent on roads, parks and gardens

– $13 is spent on environment and waste

– $9 is spent on family services

– $8 is spent on planning and infrastructure

– $8 is spent on community services and engagement

– $8 is spent on administration

– $7 is spent on arts, culture and events

– $1 is spent on debt servicing

Community urged to have a say

Cr Poulton said the draft budget and Council Plan were important documents because they guided council delivery for the future of Wodonga. He urged residents to have their say on the draft budget and Council Plan, which will go on public exhibition following the May council meeting.

“We want to hear what community members think about the draft budget and council plan and there are five ways to have a say,” he said.

1. Go online at makewodongayours.com.au to find out more and provide feedback

2. Check out our interactive map and see what’s planned and share your own ideas

3. Face-to-face: Look out for our Seats on the Street as we head out into the community or attend our community forum on June

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