East Gippsland Shire councillors will consider a Revised Draft Budget 2019/20 next Tuesday, May 7. The revision centres on a potential change to Council’s rating strategy.
If the revised rating strategy is adopted, the Farm differential rate will be set at 82.5 per cent (rather than the originally proposed 90 per cent) and the Commercial/Industrial differential rate at 143 per cent (rather than the originally proposed 145 per cent).
General rate and municipal charge revenue will remain as proposed in the original 2019/20 Draft Budget as considered on April 9, and under the Victorian Government’s 2.5 per cent rate cap.
Mayor Cr Natalie O’Connell said the new proposal, a result of a review of the rating strategy options by councillors this week, was considered following feedback that councillors had received in their communities and at the Drought Hub at last week’s popular East Gippsland Field Days.
“Effectively, what is being considered is a more even distribution of the proposed rate increase of 2.5 per cent across all three classes of properties,” Cr O’Connell said.
“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.”
Cr O’Connell last week requested that Chief Executive Officer Anthony Basford investigated additional rating scenarios for consideration by councillors, due to the ongoing impact of drought on farmers and the flow-on effect to local businesses.
“Councillors were provided detail on how these scenarios would impact the long-term financial sustainability of the organisation, including the provision of services and capital works projects. This is all valuable information that guides our decision making around ensuring we strike the right balance between rates and charges and maintaining existing service levels.”
If Council adopts a Revised Draft Budget 2019/20 on Tuesday night the Draft Budget public submission process will 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 (rather than the originally advertised June 4).
“Acting now will also allow the final Budget to be adopted before the end of the financial year, meeting our legislative obligations,” Cr O’Connell said.
The agenda for the May 7 meeting of Council, to be held at the Corporate Centre in Bairnsdale from 1pm, will be available from 1pm on Friday, May 3. Council meetings are open to the public and are also live streamed on Council’s YouTube channel ‘EastGippyTV’.