Thursday, May 12, 2011

draft budget released for comment

report from the roundtable - 10 may

This week's council meeting had to consider our draft budget for 2011/12. Many meetings and much work have gone into the development of this draft and this council meeting was to approve it's content for public exhibition and ask for public comment and submissions.

There's a range of things that influence and impact on the budget. Council is acutely aware of the pressures created by the need to maintain and renew our Shire's ageing infrastructure in a municipality that has very little growth in its rate base due to the low levels of development.

Our population continues to age, placing and increasing demand on direct care service provision, whilst the capping of many fees by the state government means that council is unable to recover the cost of many services it provides particularly in the planning and building area.

Every year we see continued cost shifting and the burden of increasing legislative obligations by state government and two examples that come to mind include funding of our libraries where ratepayers pick up more and more of the costs and the cost imposition of Neighbourhood Safer Places.

Increases in the landfill levy, imposed by state goverment had a surprise additional increase on the original known increase of $10 per tonne, in last week's state budget councils learnt that the $40 per tonne charge was to be increased to $44 per tonne (for metro). There had been no prior warning, no ability for the Yarra Ranges budget to reflect the charges.

I am supportive of a landfill levy and its purpose to implement strategies to reduce waste going to landfill, however I am disappointed that the money contributed by Yarra Ranges residents doesn't flow back to the Shire for local waste reduction initiatives.

There's some terrific initiatives in the budget, a beefed up allocation going towards drainage improvements and maintenance as well as an extensive capital works program.

I think its a responsible budget, that meets the demands of service provision and infrastructure challenges whilst setting up a solid long term financial plan.

Councillors voted unanimously to approve the budget for public exhibition.

If you'd like to read the budget or submit comments click here for more information.

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