The 2018-19 Greater Shepparton City Council draft budget was yesterday labelled a ‘‘responsible’’ one, albeit one partly characterised by an almost $50million spend proposed on capital projects.
This marks a significant increase on the current year’s program.
The new Shepparton Art Museum will begin to be built under this budget, while construction of the Cosgrove 3 landfill will continue.
Councillors yesterday voted to release the draft budget for comment, and urged community members to have their say.
At a brief special council meeting yesterday — running just a fraction over five minutes — councillors released the document for comment until late next month.
The three over-riding principles remained — generating an operating surplus, fully funding asset renewals and to borrow responsibly.
Rate rises are capped at 2.25 per cent in accordance with the Victorian Government’s Fair Go Rates System, while a two per cent increase in kerbside collection charges is proposed.
In her introduction to the draft budget, Mayor Kim O’Keeffe sketched out that the council had opted not to apply for an exemption to this, ‘‘despite the financial challenge this poses’’, highlighting that ‘‘operational savings and efficiencies’’ had been found elsewhere.
She said the council’s proposed overhauled rating strategy — where rating categories are simplified and streamlined — had been supported in the majority of feedback received.
The draft document is based on the overhauled option, which reduces the number of rating differentials and the municipal charge, but the existing rating framework is included for comparison.
The budget provides an operating surplus of almost $16million.
At the meeting, councillors unanimously voted to endorse the draft budget, invite submissions until May 25, and hold another special meeting in early June for anyone wishing to speak in support of a submission.
Cr Dinny Adem said the process would allow the community to submit to the proposed changes.
Cr Fern Summer commended the reduced municipal charge — long a bone of contention for some councillors — under the proposed rating system which she believed would ensure increased fairness for all ratepayers.
‘‘It’s my hope we can stagger it down further in future years, so I’m watching this space closely and hoping some of the submissions deal with the municipal charge,’’ she said.
Cr Dennis Patterson said the draft document, which illustrated the council’s financial performance, marked a ‘‘responsible budget’’.
He made reference to the ‘‘substantial amount’’ to be spent on capital works; a part of the budget which presented a chance for ratepayers to comment on.
Cr O’Keeffe encouraged the community to make submissions and looked forward to seeing feedback on ‘‘what we need to do and perhaps what we needed to include.’’