Council adopts 2020/21 budget

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Indigo Shire Council has adopted its budget for 2020/21, with the Mayor describing it as one of the most challenging in the Council’s history.

Cr Jenny O’Connor said the 2020 summer bushfires followed by the devastating COVID-19 pandemic has created a very difficult environment in which to prepare a 12-month budget based on any real certainty. She said Council has had to take into account a number of assumptions around predicted loss of income as a result of COVID-19 and offset this with savings in some areas, without impacting on service delivery.

The budget outlines a total operating income of $36.837M with total expenditure of $31.264M, including $12.545M in capital works program.

Rates will increase by 2%, in line with the Victorian Government rate cap, which represent a $40.57 per year, or 0.78 cents per week extra cost to the average home. Domestic waste charges will also increase by 2%.

“This budget ensures that we can continue to deliver the range and quality of services our community expects, from road construction, maternal and child health services, libraries, town planning, actions to protect and enhance our environment, providing leisure facilities, waste services and much more. It also details the funding that is required to deliver these services and maintain important assets and infrastructure,” Cr O’Connor said.

“We recently received some very welcome state and Federal Government funding news, including $2.5M to build the Chiltern Community Hub and $500,000 towards the Beechworth Precinct Renewal – Courthouse Kelly Trials Experience project which will be funded over a number of financial years. We’ve also received additional funding for roads and infrastructure projects and IT support.

As a small rural council, we rely heavily on grant funding, which is critically important at this time when so many businesses and individuals are hurting as a result of the fires and COVID-19,” she said.

“We’ve set aside some additional funds to assist with business recovery. This will go towards initiatives to encourage visitors back into our towns once it is safe to do so.”

Cr O’Connor says, “This is a budget that will be constantly reviewed and adjusted accordingly throughout the next 12 months. We will continue to keep our community informed and we ask for your understanding and patience as we all work through these unprecedented times.

What we can be certain about, is a number of projects that are predominately externally funded, will continue in 2020/21 and will play a vital role in our recovery. Work will continue on the $6.2M Beechworth to Yackandandah Rail Trail and the $2M EPIC Mountain Bike Track.”

Council’s capital works program also includes $2.57M in road infrastructure improvements and $1. 3M (some grant funding pending) for parks, open space and recreational facilitates across the Shire.

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