Council adopts 2020/21 Annual Budget and key documents

Council has set a clear strategic direction for the year ahead with the adoption of its Annual Budget and key documents to guide delivery of quality infrastructure and services to the community through existing programs, new initiatives and capital works.

The suite of key documents unanimously adopted at last night’s Council meeting include:

  • Annual Budget 2020/21
  • Annual review of Council Plan 2017-2021
  • Long Term Infrastructure Plan 2020/21-2029/30
  • Long Term Financial Strategy 2020/21-2029/30
  • Rating Strategy 2020/21

Together, these documents map the direction for Council activities in the coming year – one that is in line with community demand. $1.14 million of new projects and initiatives have been included in the Annual Budget following consideration to the 238 community submissions received during the consultation period.

The 2020/21 Annual Budget represents income of $100.1 million, expenditure of $86.1 million, resulting in a surplus of $14 million (adjusted to a deficit of $250,000 excluding non-recurrent infrastructure grant funding and capital contributions from other sources). This reflects a financially sustainable position and is a sound measure of Council’s ability to achieve service delivery objectives.

Infrastructure highlights – $32.2 million

Council continues to make a major investment in infrastructure totalling $32.2 million (plus projects carried forward from last financial year) comprising of the following key highlights:

Roads – $14.4 million

  • $2.65 million of safety and access works on Copelands Roads in Warragul (between Lillico Road and Albert Street) as per the Warragul Precinct Structure Plan
  • $2 million of reconstruction works on three poor condition sealed roads in Shady Creek, Warragul and Drouin
  • $1.8 million of road resealing (over 250,000 square metres)
  • $1.5 million of gravel road re-sheeting works
  • $1.3 million of road safety improvements across the Shire
  • $1.2 million of road repairs (over 30,000 square metres)
  • $750,000 of strategic land acquisitions for road intersection upgrades in Warragul
  • $650,000 on LED street lighting upgrades
  • $600,000 to seal and upgrade the remainder of Shillinglaw Road in Drouin
  • $370,000 to upgrade McCarthy Court in Warragul to better service the new Warragul Early Learning Centre
  • $100,000 on new or improved township entry, parking and traffic signage
  • New $25,000 bus shelter refurbishment program
  • Extensive line marking, guardrail, signage and kerb and channel replacement
  • Planting of approximately 600 advanced street trees

Recreation and open spaces – $7.9 million

  • $3.2 million over two years for a multi-use pavilion at Trafalgar Recreation Reserve (subject to external funding)
  • $2.9 million on a new synthetic soccer pitch for Baxter Reserve in Warragul (subject to external funding)
  • $600,000 on a stormwater harvesting project to use recycled water for irrigation at Western Park ovals in Warragul
  • $503,000 on a new skate park and recreational vehicle parking area in Rawson
  • $500,000 on sports field and hard surface replacement/renewal including a major upgrade of Kydd Parke Oval in Jindivick (subject to external funding)
  • $400,000 on open space improvements in Warragul and Yarragon
  • $400,000 on sports oval lighting upgrades at Longwarry and Thorpdale Recreation Reserves
  • $200,000 for the Placemaking Program across four smaller townships
  • $200,000 on new sports and playground equipment including skate and BMX, as well as open space furniture replacement
  • $150,000 to re-tile the Neerim South pool
  • $100,000 on upgrades to coach boxes at Buln Buln, Darnum and Western Park in Warragul
  • $100,000 towards key actions from the Community Hubs Strategy
  • $95,431 on public artwork
  • $8,000 for a tennis hit up wall at the Trafalgar Tennis Club

Footpaths – $2.9 million

  • $1.5 million on approximately 5.8 kilometres of new footpaths across the Shire
  • $850,000 for the construction of a 4.7 kilometre granitic sand path connecting Erica and Rawson
  • $500,000 on gravel and sealed path replacements, trip hazard rectifications, upgrades to meet Disability Discrimination Act compliance and pram ramp replacements

Future designs and investigations – $2.8 million

  • $500,000 towards detailed designs, permits, technical investigations and approvals for a Drouin Community Hub
  • $475,000 on an accelerated design program to design and plan future infrastructure works at various locations across the Shire
  • $200,000 on future road reconstructions, drainage upgrades, intersection upgrades and external funding application support
  • $150,000 for detailed design works of improvements identified in the Drouin Township Plan in preparation for delivery in the 2021/22 financial year
  • $100,000 for recreation and open space design work at Warragul and Neerim South
  • $93,926 on redesigning and revising costings for the south bypass crossing of King Parrot Creek in Drouin and a number of other projects requiring revision
  • $55,000 to commence detailed feasibility work and support progression of the proposed Logan Park Cycling Precinct in Warragul

Buildings – $2.5 million

  • $1.7 million on community facility renewals including roof works, flooring works, cladding replacements, accessibility improvements, heating and cooling upgrades as well as asbestos removal
  • $300,000 on replacement of the Burke Street public toilets in Warragul, as well as minor refurbishments of public toilets Shire-wide
  • $330,000 on waste system upgrades to better manage street sweeper waste material
  • $100,000 on solar panel installations on eight Council owned buildings

Drainage – $1 million

  • $450,000 on open drain cleaning and roadside works
  • $400,000 on pit, pipe and culvert replacements
  • $100,000 on dam safety and wetland establishment works

Bridges and major culverts – $0.7 million

  • $700,000 on the reconstruction of the Roberts Road bridge (subject to a successful grant application), and six major culvert rehabilitations

Operating expenses will increase by 3.78 per cent primarily due to employee expenses and new operating initiatives such as the 2020 Local Government Elections and development of Preferred Neighbourhood Character Guidelines for Warragul and Drouin. Asset depreciation expenses have increased by 9.4 per cent as Council has delivered new community assets.

Waste charges have increased by an average of 2 per cent from the prior year due to increased waste management costs and a $200,000 increase in the State Government landfill levy. The average residential garbage charge is $392 per rateable property.

Additionally, the Annual Budget has been prepared in the unprecedented times of dealing with COVID-19. It includes the financial impact of the previously unbudgeted $440,000 stage 1 community and business support package released in April 2020, and a further $50,000 allocation towards a stage 2 support package. It also considers overall revenue loss from closed facilities such as the West Gippsland Art Centre, recreation/leisure facilities and loss of income from some waived rates and charges.

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