Council calls for public comment of 2020-21 draft budget

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Northern Grampians Shire Council has adopted the 2020-21 draft budget and is now seeking feedback from the community.

The budget outlines council’s major projects for the coming financial year and provides information on where funding for projects and works come from and where that funding will be spent.

The 2020-21 budget includes the 12-month capital program with a total commitment of $13.4 million to be spent on roads, parks, recreation, and building works.

A two per cent rate rise on the 9,367 rateable properties in the shire is proposed in the draft budget, in line with the rate cap set by the Minister for Local Government.

Council has determined that no increases in waste and recycling kerbside collection charges will be made as the current waste levies are sufficient to fully recover the cost of waste management.

No new loan funds are proposed to be borrowed during 2020-21 which will allow for council to repay $218,000 in loans during the year, decreasing net indebtedness $2.4 million to $2.2 million during the period.

There are a number of long-term projects carried over from last year’s budget including the North Park Multipurpose Clubroom Development in Stawell, the Lord Nelson Park upgrade in St Arnaud, and the Great Western Future Plan and associated projects.

Council is proposing no changes to the Farm Rate Differential Policy in this financial year but is proposing a three per cent reduction to 50 per cent of general rates in 2021-22.

The budget also includes new plans and initiatives council is working on to implement in the new financial year.

Community Development, Business Support, Tourism, and Community Engagement are all focus areas for the budget to help the region recover from the impacts of the Coronavirus Pandemic and build a more prosperous local economy for the future.

In 2020-21, council will engage a Youth Leadership program to ensure the voices of young people in the shire are fairly represented, a new Arts and Culture Strategy will be implemented to support local community arts initiatives, a new Agriculture Engagement Strategy will be developed, a St Arnaud and a Stawell Retail Activation Plan and Business Beautification program will be developed to help businesses get back on their feet, and seasonal tourism campaigns and tourism investment attraction opportunities will be thoroughly investigated.

Northern Grampians Shire Council Mayor, Murray Emerson, said this year’s draft budget is all about making sure the region can recover and build towards a stronger future following hard times.

“This budget delivers on some of the exciting major projects council has been working on as well as lays out the path for the next 12 months,” he said.

“A lot of work has been done in addressing the needs of the community and I am very much looking forward to being a part of these new projects as they progress.”

“I encourage everyone in the shire to read the budget and have their voice heard in this process by submitting their feedback via the online form. We want to know exactly what you think of this proposal so we can work towards the best goals for all our communities.”

Northern Grampians Shire Council CEO, Liana Thompson, said the budget marks the beginning of a new chapter for the council.

“Council is more than roads, rates, and rubbish and this budget shows just how dedicated we are to listening to what the community wants and how we can best deliver those outcomes,” she said.

“I look forward to hearing from the public about this proposed budget and gain their valuable input into the budget process.”

Submissions regarding the 2020-21 public Draft Budget can be made via council’s website, via post to PO Box 580, Stawell, VIC, 3380 or email to ngshire@ngshire.vic.gov.au. Submissions close Thursday 6 August 2020.

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