Originally written by NATALIE MCGREGOR
MORE than $10 million will be spent in capital works across the Southern Grampians if the shire draft budget gets the green light.
The 2010/11 draft budget was released for public comment at last night’s council meeting and was expected to be supported by all seven councillors.
Highlights from the capital works program include the completion of the refurbishment of the PAC forecourt, completion of the new conference centre at the showgrounds, refurbishment works at Dunkeld Visitor Information Centre, and an extensive redevelopment and renewal project at the Hamilton Airport.
Others include improvements to the facilities at the saleyards, completing the toilet space at the Hamilton Library, as well as continuing the VicUrban development at Lake Hamilton, further rehabilitation of the Hamilton Landfill, continuing council financial information systems and maintaining “adequate spending” on roads and related infrastructure.
The infrastructure injection will be supported by a 7.6 per cent rate rise, selling off council assets, loans, as well as external grants, cash, investments and working capital.
Grant funding to be received for capital works was anticipated to be about $3.4 million compared to $4.1 million last financial year.
Southern Grampians Mayor Marcus Rentsch was hopeful the recommendations of the draft budget would be adopted at the meeting.
“It has been a very thorough assessment from all departments and certainly it’s been under close scrutiny,” he said.
“It’s the first time (the budget) has been subjected to a credibility test. It had to face a system of green, amber and red lights.
“It’s been a major challenge and we believe it’s a responsible budget that caters for the continual development of our shire and improvements to infrastructure in our towns.”
Cr Rentsch said the budget was linked to council’s vision to be Australia’s “most liveable provincial community” by key strategies and goals.
He said that council had set a performance plan to measure the effect of the council plan and budget.
“Affordable” increases to animal and health act registrations and parking fines, as well charges for the use of leisure, entertainment and other community services, children’s services and home and community care services and employee costs are also featured.
A key budget principle for the year ahead is for the council to identify new revenue sources where possible.
The council will increase waste management service charges from $145 to $160 for all improved residential properties in Hamilton, Balmoral, Coleraine, Dunkeld, Glenthompson and Penshurst.
The council aims to hold almost $5 million in cash at June 30, 2011 and anticipates an operating surplus of $162, 906.
The draft budget will be available for public inspection at council’s customer service centre at Brown St as well as all licensed post offices within the shire, excluding Hamilton, or can be downloaded from the council website.
Submissions close on June 14 and it will be considered at a special council meeting on June 16.
The budget is required to be adopted by the council before August 31.