Council’s 2017-18 draft budget achieves lowest ever rate rise
April 21, 2017
Colac Otway Shire Council’s 2017-18 draft budget proposes the lowest rate rise in the municipality’s history at an average of 0.63 per cent across all rating categories.
Council has also reduced the farm differential from 79 per cent to 77 per cent of the general rate, which will equate to the sector paying 1.2 per cent less total rates on average than they did last year.
The State Government reduced the rate cap to 2 per cent this year, down from 2.5 per cent in the 2016-17 financial year. The proposed increase to the average rates and charges by just 0.63 per cent, well below the State Government’s cap, equates to an increase of 21 cents per week per property.
Chief Executive Officer Sue Wilkinson said the newly elected councillors had worked hard to ensure Council’s budget absorbed the impact of the further rate cap reduction without affecting services.
“The draft budget reflects the significant work done to reduce operational costs to ensure service to the community is maintained while being able to increase rates lower than the rate cap.
“Our materials and services expenses have reduced from the previous year and this is the result of the work done on business improvement to reduce operating costs, generating permanent savings exceeding $600,000.”
Ms Wilkinson said Councillors had indicated that they wanted to reduce the farm rate in recognition of the hardship and ongoing challenges the rural sector faces, and the draft budget reflected Council’s work to minimise the rate impact on the farming community.
The draft budget, which will be tabled at next Wednesday’s Council meeting, is the new Council’s first budget.
“We’re presenting a financially responsible draft budget one that ensures Colac Otway remains in a sustainable, low-risk financial position.
“Council has undertaken a rigorous process in developing the draft budget and has been cautious and conservative in its forecasting, which provides a solid position. There are no new borrowings and as debt levels reduce, further cash flow will be released to fund capital works,” she said.
Council continues prioritising its capital works spend of $21.64 million, up from $18.29 million the previous year, and includes $1.95 million for the central business district revitalisation project, and $700,000 for the Queen Street footpath improvement between Pound Road and Hearn streets.
The rate in the dollar for all other rating categories in the shire will increase by 1.2 per cent, which is well below the State Government’s set rate cap.
The 2017-18 draft budget highlights include:
An increase in the average rate of 0.63 per cent, equating to an increased cost of 21 cents per week per property on average – the lowest rate rise in the shire’s history.
People receiving weekly waste collections will pay an additional 11 cents per week, or $298 per year; while people receiving fortnightly collections will pay an additional 8 cents per week, or $198 per year.
The draft budget earmarks a landmark $21.64 million for capital works within the shire, including:
$5.1 million for road reconstruction, re-sheeting, re-sealing and safety upgrades
$1.06 million landslip restoration work
$700,000 for the Queen Street footpath improvement between Pound Road and Hearn Street
$1.08 million in building renewal upgrades including $466,000 for the Winifred Nance Kindergarten building upgrade.
$181,057 for the redevelopment of netball facilities at the Irrewarra Beeac Recreation Reserve
$500,000 to implement the Lake Colac masterplan in line with council’s commitment and the community priorities identified at the recent local council elections.
Ms Wilkinson said in the past year Council had also co-ordinated major disaster recovery and supported our coastal communities recovering from the devastating effects of bushfire, this was followed by flood recovery after heavy rain severely impacted the shire in September. These works were funded through the National Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements.
Councillors will consider the draft budget for community consultation at next Wednesday’s meeting, it will then be released for comment and public submissions for a five-week period.
Ms Wilkinson said she strongly encouraged community members to take up one of the opportunities to comment on the draft budget, which will include drop-in information sessions in Colac and Apollo Bay.
“Community consultation is a very important part of the budget process and we want to give community members the opportunity to speak to us about the budget, and the projects and services important to them.”
Community drop-in sessions:
Thursday, 4 May outside Target Colac, from 10am - 1pm
Thursday, 11 May outside Apollo Bay Bakery, from 10am-1pm
The draft budget will be discussed at Council’s 26 April meeting at the Colac Performing Arts and Cultural Centre, which starts at 6pm.
If the draft budget is approved for consultation by Council, it will be available for viewing at www.colacotway.vic.gov.au, or at Council’s customer service centres and public libraries in Colac and Apollo Bay from Monday, 1 May.
As part of future budget planning the Colac Otway Shire Council will finalise its rating strategy in the coming months for implementation in 2018, the existing rating strategy is due to expire this year. Councillors will have time to explore rating options and this will be followed by a comprehensive community consultation program.