Southern Grampians Shire Council has adopted the 2021-22 Council Budget, which supports the community post-COVID and invests $22.5 million in capital works, major projects and roads.
The Budget was adopted at a Special Meeting of Council last night, along with the Revenue and Rating Plan and Pricing Register.
While last year’s Budget was designed to respond directly to the devastating impact of COVID 19, this year’s budget reflects a renewed focus and commitment to growth, renewal, and the delivery of projects and services.
A Capital Works program of over $22 million sees a major investment in roads, bridges, footpaths and associated infrastructure works. Highlights of the Capital Works program for the 2021-22 year include:
• Roads, bridges, culverts and footpaths – $7.3million;
• Pedrina Park and Melville Oval major facilities upgrades – $5million+;
• Hamilton Industrial Land development – $1.2million;
• Dunkeld and Penshurst Visitor Experience – $1.3million;
• CBD revitalisation – Cox Street redevelopment – $3.4million;
• Upgrade of pavilions at Silvester Oval Coleraine – $179,000; and
• Plant replacement – $1.7million.
Other key initiatives outlined in $67.403m 2021/22 budget include:
• Continue the next steps in the feasibility of a new Hamilton Gallery;
• Develop revised Advocacy and Partnership Priorities and an implementation approach, generally in accordance with feedback collected through community visioning work;
• 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 service.
For the 2021-22 year, the State Government, under the fair go rates system, has set the rate cap at 1.5 percent. The cap applies to both general rates and municipal charges and is calculated on the basis of Council’s average rates and charges. The 1.5 percent increase applies to the total rates revenue received by Council, not to individual ratepayers.
Council has conducted an extensive review of the rating strategy following community feedback and has taken steps to recognise and address the inequity across the Shire. The adopted Revenue and Rating Plan maintains a differential for rural property owners and importantly, based upon modelling and feedback, a mechanism to maintain a 40/60 (residential/rural) rate revenue apportionment to assist reducing the significant fluctuations that can occur due to land valuations.
The purpose of levying differential general rates is to recognise the different standard of municipal services provided to the residents and ratepayers in different areas of the Shire as well as the accessibility and availability of those services.
Council voted at the meeting that the Revenue and Rating Plan be applied for the 2021/22 financial year only and return to Council for further review.
The adopted pricing register looks to maintain fees and charges within a CPI environment and most council services remain stable in 2021-22, except for legislated costs increases (in statutory functions like building, planning and environmental health) and where other influences have forced Council to increase costs (user group fees, swimming and recreation fees).
Fees and charges across most Council-owned cultural facilities will stay the same or reduce, as will most waste charges at Transfer Stations. Green waste charges will reduce from $32 per cubic metre to $22.
Southern Grampian Shire Council Mayor Bruach Colliton said the 2021-22 budget is fair, aspirational and has been developed to help drive the Southern Grampians Shire into the future.
“This first budget of the current Council, elected last October has been developed to ensure our financial position remains sustainable while supporting the community through a range of initiatives and projects, following a difficult 12 months.
“A capital works budget of over $22million, the largest we’ve ever had, will see us deliver on some long awaited major projects for the region and invest in our critical infrastructure of roads, bridges and footpaths.
“We understand that our community has high expectations of us and what we deliver for their rate dollar so it is important that we continue to identify efficiencies and review all activities against community identified priorities,” Cr Colliton said.
The adopted Budget, Revenue and Rating Plan and Pricing Register will be available to view at www.sthgrampians.vic.gov.au and in hard copy at Council’s Brown Street office and the Greater Hamilton Library.