East Gippsland Shire councillors endorsed the Revised Draft Budget 2019/20 for public feedback at its monthly meeting on Tuesday, May 7.
The update centres on more evenly generating rate revenue across the property classes. To achieve this, the farm differential rate will now be set at 82.5 per cent rather than the originally proposed 90 per cent. This will provide a 17.5 per cent discount to farmers. The change in differential rates will also see the Commercial/Industrial differential rate reduce from 145 per cent to 143 per cent.
General rate and municipal charge revenue will remain as proposed in the original Draft Budget considered on April 9, and meets the Victorian Government’s 2.5 per cent rate cap.
Mayor Cr Natalie O’Connell said Council had taken the community’s feedback onboard and was responding with a fiscally-responsible, fair, and even distribution of rates across all three classes of properties to ensure Council can still retain expected levels of service and facilities across the region.
“The new revised draft budget is a result of a review of the rating strategy options by councillors, following feedback councillors received in their communities and at the Drought Hub at the East Gippsland Field Days,” Cr O’Connell said.
“Effectively, Council adopted a more even distribution of the proposed rate increase of 2.5 per cent across all three classes of properties.
“The average Farm rate would be reduced from 9.88 per cent to 2.45 per cent, with Commercial/Industrial 2.39 per cent and Residential 2.52 per cent.”
Council recognised the ongoing impact of drought on farmers and the flow-on effect to local businesses.
“Councillors were provided details on how different rating strategies would impact the long-term financial sustainability of the organisation, including service provision and capital works projects. Council has worked to provide flexible and good decision making around ensuring we strike the right balance between rates and charges and maintaining existing service levels.”
The Revised Draft Budget public submission process will now recommence with submissions open until Friday, June 7 at noon, with a committee of Council meeting to consider submissions taking place on Tuesday, June 11.
“Acting now allows the final Budget to be adopted before the end of the financial year, meeting our legislative obligations,” Cr O’Connell said.