Council Adopts 2020/21 Budget

Southern Grampians Shire Council has adopted its Budget for 2020/21 at last night’s July Council Meeting.

The $58.54M budget is focused on providing community leadership throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and for the recovery process that follows, while continuing, as much as possible, to deliver on the projects and services that make the Greater Hamilton region a great place to live, work and do business.

The adopted budget will see rates increase by 1.75%, with the balance of funds, approximately $328,000 set aside and dedicated to assist in financial COVID-19 support for residents, ratepayers and businesses.

Southern Grampians Shire Council Mayor Cr Chris Sharples believes the budget delivers fairness, responsibility and opportunity in equal measure.

“In the midst of COVID-19, we’ve worked hard to develop a budget that continues to deliver the essential services our community needs, while also supporting our community through the pandemic and into the recovery phase.

“I’m confident that this budget demonstrates our continued focus on the need to balance delivery of quality services for the community while being conscious of the longer-term financial impacts. We understand that our community has high expectations of us and what we deliver for their rate dollar so it is important we continue to identify efficiencies and review all activities against community identified priorities,” Cr Sharples continued.

Following the Council resolution in May to put the proposed budget out for public exhibition, Council received 21 submissions from members of the public. The submissions received commented on broad issues such as rate and revenue management, funding of Council’s programs and priorities as set in the Council Plan, our capital works program and general financial management observations. Of those who made submissions, 11 took the opportunity to speak to their submissions at the Budget Submission meeting held on 24 June.

Southern Grampians Shire Council Mayor Cr Chris Sharples thanked all residents who provided Budget submissions and contributed to the overall process.

“Following consideration of submissions received, Council last night resolved to scope and prioritise four projects for inclusion in the 2020/21 works plan.”

These projects are:

• Request for the upkeep of the path on the north side of the river in Cavendish;

• Request for heating in the Mechanics Hall in Coleraine;

• Relocation of the Dump Point in the Dunkeld Caravan Park; and

• Request of funding for beautification of the Balmoral & District Recreation Reserve

“Council officers will now work with the communities and committees to scope and cost these projects, with a report due back to Council in September,” Cr Sharples said.

The key initiatives outlined in $58.54M 2020/21 budget include:

• Deliver the Waste and Resource Recovery Strategy as adopted by Council including landfill, transfer stations and collection initiatives;

• Continue the feasibility steps for a new Hamilton Gallery;

• Commence the delivery of priority improvements of recreation and leisure facilities in response to the findings of the Recreation and Leisure Strategy, including Lake Hamilton;

• Continue advocacy on key Council priorities to Regional organisations (Great South Coast & Grampians), State and Federal Governments;

• Implement an investment attraction program that focuses on the key industries of agriculture, manufacturing, retail, tourism and the digital economy; and

• Invest in the appropriate systems, processes and training to support an environment which delivers a seamless customer experience.

A Capital Works program of just over $13 million sees a major investment in roads, bridges, footpaths and associated infrastructure works. Highlights of the Capital Works program for the 2020/21 year include:

• Continue significant investment into local roads, bridges and other Council owned infrastructure;

• Deliver essential works at transfer station and landfill sites; and

• Implement works associated with Council Buildings Asset Management Strategy.

“Finally, this is the last budget that will be set by the current Council, as our four-year term comes to end in October this year when the local government election is held.

“While it has been challenging to achieve a Budget that appropriately balances the competing needs we see in our community, particularly at this time, I am both confident and proud of the work and intention behind this Budget. The Budget will play a part in assisting ongoing community recovery and help Council to deliver its services effectively, efficiently and equitably across our Shire,” added Cr Sharples.

The 2020/21 Budget, Strategic Resource Plan and Pricing Register form part of Council’s overall planning, reporting and accountability framework and are available to view at www.sthgrampians.vic.gov.au

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