Southern Grampians Shire Council draft 2015/2015 budget speeches from the special meeting held last Wednesday, April 30 2014.
Southern Grampians Mayor Albert Calvano
Before we continue I’d like to thank the officers and councillors for their participation and input into the draft budget,
I would like to acknowledge some of the key achievements that have led us to this point.
The new greater Hamilton branding marks a shift in the way we think about ourselves and our place in the broader region and community.
We have put together a master plan for the airport and have secured $2.5 million in funding to extend the runway and put new lights at our Hamilton airport because this is important for our region and important for our local economy.
Another asset that we are proud of is our saleyards, also one of our most important assets and that’s why we are asking for federal and state governments to help fund a $4.6 million expansion on our saleyards.
The draft budget under consideration tonight includes a number of unique initiatives; many of which are also about the vital partnerships we must build on in our greater region and this includes payments to Warrnambool cancer centre of which there is no doubt that greater Hamilton residents will benefit from.
Partnership with Glenelg Shire Council to explore the implications of the NBN rollout.
Conducting and audit of waste water in towns that are unsewered so we can monitor the impacts and identify the solutions.
We are also looking at building a new council website that will make it easier for investors, ratepayers and other services can use it to find information on what they need from our council.b
This year we are looking forward to great funding.
We have a need for around about $13 million in capital funding for some of the projects that range in capital works which includes in this budget roads and footpaths with a round figure of $5.7 million, the Hamilton Airport $2.6m, livestock exchange in the order of $470,000.
All through I’ve been in council, for six years, there has been talk of the Hamilton Skate Park; eventually this year there is $250,000 in the budget.
HILAC 25 metre heated pool $114,000, Melville oval lighting $430,000, the purchase of road rollers for $345,000.
And also public toilets at Balmoral that has been advocated for, eventually in this budget: $212,000.
In conclusion with the rate rise of 2014/2015 financial year of 6.5 per cent the revenue raised will allow us to maintain existing services, fund new initiatives and continue to allocate funds to renew the shire’s ageing infrastructure.
I’m proud to say on behalf of my fellow councillors that we as council are consistent with our council plan and strategic resource plan.
This draft budget will go to public submission and I do encourage the community to review the document and lodge a submission where appropriate.
Councillor Dennis Dawson
Of all the things we debate in this chamber, Mr Mayor, the budget and the strategic resource plan is the most important.
All of our services and operations revolve around the availability of funds and they are sourced from rates and contribution and grants from governments, and the fees that we charge.
There is nothing more certain that death and taxes but where most of us a fairly reluctant to accept death we accept taxes when we are assured that they are fair and spent efficiently and well.
Under the standing orders I only have time to speak for a few minutes so I don’t have time to expand on the many issues that I see that this budget raises.
I do want to spend a minute to specifically thank the staff for their work in the preparation of the budget material and the review of the services to work towards no net operational increase.
It’s a huge task and I really would like to thank them for it.
In the budget documents you’ll see the chief executive’s summary says we must balance demand with the community’s capacity to pay.
We know we have an ageing low growth community and by 2016/2017 some 10 per cent of our annual agricultural production, which is assessed in the 2014 figures, is going to be consumed by the charges the shire levies in rates.
I accept that we have to maintain a sound financial framework, but I don’t accept the way to achieve this is to continually increase our rate take.
Over the period of this council the increase will be 25.5 per cent, multiplied because that’s only the addition of individual years over the council term.
At the end of this council term I will happily own a middle range house and on present indications it will cost well over $2000 a year in council rates alone.
Projects show the increase will be soaked up by costs other than capital works because they remain relatively stable over the long term.
In addition to that, I do believe the capital spending we are putting in for 2014/2015 will not be achieved.
I’ve tried to contribute a more detailed analysis of the budget in some way without success, but I believe councillors need to be more actively involved in this process and need to be much more aware of structural influences that drive it.
To that end I will continue to advocate for the establishment of a finance committee of council to work collaboratively for the community benefit.
Finally I can say the electoral policy of some potential councillors at the public forum was quite emphatic: that there would be no more money for consultancies and the funds would be directed to tangible gain.
I accept that consultancies are required in some instances, but this budget proposes expenditure of about $360,000 in consultancies and planning reviews.
I said during the budget discussions that I was quite prepared to accept a budget which provided an increase where it details a structure and accepted projects and an acceptable cost.
I’m not prepared to accept one that is developed from the status quo plus what is seen to be politically acceptable increases.
The only influence that I can have in this budget process is to vote ‘no’ and that is what I propose to do.
Councillor Paul Battista
Mr Mayor on the whole, this budget going forward, we have done a lot of work.
I think we are working hard to keep consultancies down.
We need to move towards design and construct methods rather than separate.
And I do support that as in I believe there would be saving in the long term.
Mr Mayor, that’s what we’re here as councillors for; to work hard and make savings on behalf of people in our shire.
But we have to remember some things; we want to grow and to grow our shire we’ve to put key projects in place.
Because by putting those key projects in place we will grow the population of our shire.
I firmly believe in this. If we try and cut now and hold back, we don’t go forward with some of these projects, as you know in the past I have been quite concerned about some of these projects because I should have got other governments to fund certain projects but nevertheless we’ve decided to put these in, and some of the projects have come in with certain funding from governments and some haven’t.
Mr Mayor, if we’re going to grow our shire’s we’ve got to get on board and support this budget moving forward.
From the part of Huon Park, there was community consultation and there was strong support. I don’t know how it got lost in the mix but, Mr Mayor, if I do not move this forward right now as part of this budget, then the next time we come to vote on the budget someone will saying: ‘why are your bringing this to council now?’
I’ve had this in previous years, it’s a point where you get blocked for some reason, but Mr Mayor I’m putting this out to the community and I hope the community get on board with this.
If their support with the submissions comes through then council should look at this in detail but if we don’t put it now I don’t know when this project is going to get done.
I understand Cr Dark talking about ‘are we going to get a grant?’ maybe we can work a grant up and the money can come through and that will be a budget saving so we’ll be able to put the money in something else.
If I dot not move this now I feel that the asset of Huon park, with item such as shade sails and the importance of how strong our sun is and UV, we’re trying to protect our community.
I see this as a safety issue Mr Mayor, I believe we need more shade sails at Huon park and that’s why I brought it to council; its very important.