$23.36M spending spree

A $23.36 MILLION capital works program is a feature of South Gippsland Shire Council’s budget for 2018-19, along with a two percent rate rise.
The 2018-19 program is $700,000 higher than last year’s. Among the major projects are replacing the Bena-Kongwak Road bridge at Bena, designing the refurbishment of Mirboo North Pool, extending the footpath along Jumbunna Road at Korumburra, Loch Main Street renewal, Korumburra Community Hub design, Toora Pool masterplan, and Koonwarra landfill cap on cells one, two and three.
Councillors unanimously adopted the budget last Wednesday. Deputy mayor Cr Aaron Brown declared, “We are in a strong financial position”, with council expecting a $1.45 million surplus.
The actual rate increase of two percent is below the State Government’s rate cap of 2.25 percent, but a revaluation of property values earlier this year may result in some rates increasing beyond that.
Cr Don Hill said, “A quarter of a percent is not a big thing in the scheme of things but it shows that we are passing the efficiencies on.” He tipped the prospect of rate decreases in the next budget.
Cr Andrew McEwen labelled the budget “historic” and projected another “historic budget in 12 months’ time”, but noted more rate relief was needed for people on low incomes. Cr Meg Edwards agreed, saying, “We do definitely have people hurting in our region and rates are a contributor to that.”
She said council needed to do more to fix roads that were damaging cars, improve footpaths and address discretionary spending.
Cr Ray Argento said few councils had reduced rate increases beyond the rate cap and mayor Cr Lorraine Brunt said a past rate rise of 4.9 percent had helped setup council’s current financial state.
Two percent rate rises are forecast each year until 2021-22. Rates income for 2018-19 is tipped to be $42.5 million. Waste charges have risen due to the oncharging of extra waste recycling charges from council’s contactor due to the China recycling issue.
The waste fee for homes for kerbside garbage and recycling will increase from $188.20 in 2017-18 to $211.20. The same charge will apply to commercial recycling collection customers.
Caravan parks works carried over to this year are: Long Jetty, cabin replacement, $160,000, storage shed, $4000, kiosk/front office/residence, $65,000, and powerhead replacement, $12,000; Yanakie, camp kitchen and communal area, $99,000; Port Welshpool, toilet block, $375,000, and new powerheads, $25,000; and Waratah Bay, toilet block, $143,000.
Council will spend $18,000 on capital projects at Coal Creek Community Park and Museum. The former Korumburra kindergarten will undergo a $275,000 transformation into an interim library.
Changes to operating income in the final budget compared to the draft included $156,369 additional anticipated revenue from Yanakie Caravan Park site fees and $36,200 worth of extra parking fines council expects to make in 2018-19, and $62,000 in future budgets. This is due to the appointment of a senior local laws officer at a cost of $98,417, bringing the total number of fulltime equivalent jobs to 267.53.
Council removed the vacant half time role in legal and contracts due to the shared services project with Baw Baw Shire Council no longer continuing.
Five new planning fees have been introduced and council will receive $220,000 in additional revenue from waste collection charges to offset additional recycling costs in 2018-19 and forward budgets.
As at June 30, 2019, council will have $3.35 million in outstanding borrowings, along with $3.35 million in a cash loan reserve to extinguish its unfunded superannuation obligation for staff due in July 2019.
The underlying result showed a $2.7 million deficit only due to grants of $4.82 million from the Victorian Grants Commission for 2018-19 being paid in June 2018 and therefore being removed from income in 2018-19.

His view: South Gippsland Shire Councillor Andrew McEwen (left) makes his point during budget deliberations at last Wednesday’s council meeting at the Leongatha council chamber, watched by, from second left, Cr Aaron Brown, Cr Alyson Skinner and Cr Ray Argento.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=25297

Posted by on Jul 3 2018. Filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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