Indigo Shire’s Draft Annual Budget includes key projects to aid the economic development of shire communities.
Mayor Cr James Trenery said this was ‘quite an achievement’ given State Government rate capping of 2.5% and cuts to Federal Government Assistance Grants.
The draft budget comes before the monthly Council Meeting next Tuesday 28 June for adoption.
Cr Trenery said it was ‘very pleasing’ that the Council had been able to keep some key projects in the budget, given the tight financial constraints all Victorian Councils are experiencing.
“For instance, in Barnawartha there is a need to plan for expected growth in that area due to the establishment of the Barnawartha saleyards and jobs that flow from the new rail hub at the Logic Centre near Wodonga. These significant businesses will have an impact on the Barnawartha township and we need to plan for that,” Cr Trenery said.
He said Council would begin work on a Barnawartha Structure Plan to guide the town’s growth and development.
“This budget also identifies some funding to leverage our advocacy efforts for grants from State and Federal Governments for key Council projects like the Hume Region Tracks and Trails enhancement, with the main focus on the trail from Beechworth to Yackandandah, and funding for initiatives from the Chiltern Placemaking Project,” he said.
“This advocacy work will extend to seeking funding to construct the Wahgunyah to Moodemere cycle path to help boost recreation and tourism in the fastest growing town in the shire. And work on the Rutherglen Economic Revitalisation Project continues in 2016-17 along with core infrastructure across the shire such as roads, playgrounds and footpaths.”
Cr Trenery said that the Council had historically had lower rates and lower costs per head of population than similar smaller councils in the region, and this trend was continuing.
“This is very pleasing because when we started to build the budget, the Councillors set parameters which included no additional borrowings, minimal impacts on service levels, a Capital Works program of at least $6 million and as small a cash deficit as possible.
“I am very pleased to say that Council has delivered on these parameters. We have an $8.09 million Capital Works Program, no additional loans, no reductions in core services and there is a forecast surplus of $2.57 million, which includes capital grants.
“This draft budget has been quite an achievement and has been scrutinised by the Finance Committee and has been given a tick of approval for balancing community needs against the need to tighten our belts.”
The draft 2016-17 Budget forecasts a full-year cash deficit of $170,000, which is an improvement of $430,000 on the expected cash deficit of $600,000 for the current 2015-16 financial year.
“This improved position is a significant achievement by Council, however it is still a deficit and further work is required in the next few years to ensure a sustainable organisation,” Cr Trenery said.
Projects to be completed in the next financial year include:
- Kerb and channel work in 3 streets in Chiltern - $170,000
- The widening of 2.1km of Chiltern-Yackandandah Road to improve road safety - $480,000
- A new 340m footpath at Kiewa-Walcha Road to Kiewa East Road - $60,000
- Upgrade Gooramadda Road bridge - $160,000
- Renewal works across all playground equipment in the shire - $30,000
- Rutherglen Main Street revitalisation - $235,000
- Wahgunyah, new kerb and channel Elizabeth Street - $61,000
- Yackandandah Memorial Hall renewal - $30,000
- Beechworth drainage improvements - $95,000
Cr Trenery said that Council was required to fund the 2016 Council election which was set at $125,000, and this meant funding for other projects was restricted.