By NICOLE WILLIAMS
RESIDENTS will be slugged an additional 6.8 per cent on this rates if the Cardinia Shire draft budget is accepted in June.
Council released its draft budget and draft council plan for public comment on Monday, and it was passed by all but one councillor.
Councillors recognised that it was a tough budget and many unexpected expenses had proved a challenge.
“People in the community want to maintain all amenities, keep rates down and reduce debt but that is an impossible task,” Cr George Blenkhorn said. “This is a very responsible rate rise.”
Cr Collin Ross stood alone in rejecting the draft budget based on the rate increase, although in doing so he also voted against all the other items in the budget.
He dismissed the idea that this meant he did not support the other spending.
“I believe in responsible spending in the budget where we spend money on things we need and not things we want as well,” he said.
“I agree with all the projects we are doing but I don’t believe we need to do them immediately. Plenty of projects don’t have to be built right now.”
Mayor Cr Owen said the draft budget offered the best value for residents, while providing long term financial security for council.
“This budget will enable Council to continue to meet the challenges associated with a rapidly expanding population,” Cr Owen said.
“As one of Victoria’s top three fastest growing municipalities, we need to ensure we continue to provide services for the five new families moving into the Shire every day.
“Equally, we know many people in our community are doing it tough. This budget acknowledges that. We are also mindful that services, roads and footpaths need to be maintained and improved right around our Shire, not just in the growth areas.”
The councillors addressed allocations for the unfunded superannuation liability faced by all councils (approximately $3.8 million for Cardinia) and the late State Government changes to the differential rating system which impacted on the budgeted revenue of Council by about $220,000.
The draft budget also includes a projection of a ‘first-ever operational surplus’ in 2017-18 and no increase in debt during Council’s four-year term.
“I encourage people to have a hard look at the budget when it comes to the rate increase,” Cr Owen said.
A community information session will be held at the council offices at 7pm on Monday 27 May.
Community members can make comments and submissions about the draft budget by sending submissions to the CEO, Council offices, Henty Way, Pakenham, Victoria, 3810.
Submission close 5pm on Wednesday 5 June.
All submissions will be heard at a special council meeting starting at 7pm on Monday 17 June.
For further information regarding the draft budget and council plan, contact 1300 787 624.
Features of the draft budget
New footpaths and maintenance: $700,000
Lang Lang bypass: $760,000
Duplication of McGregor Road north of the railway line: $1.83 million
New regional soccer facility in Henry Road, Pakenham: $1 million
Further development of Holm Park Recreation Reserve, Beaconsfield: $1.078 million
Significant upgrade works at Chandler Reserve, Emerald: $500,000
Development of Gum Scrub Creek Reserve, Officer: $338,000
Surface upgrade at Nar Nar Goon Recreation Reserve: $300,000
Officer Recreation Reserve netball courts: $300,000
Upgrade of access road and car par at Cochrane Park, Koo Wee Rup: $150,000
Improvements to Pepis Land, Emerald : $150,000
Cardinia Road Community Centre: $2 million
Community children’s facility – Lakeside South: $1.565 million
Lilypond restoration, Pakenham: $300,000
Township strategy implementation: $200,000
New playgrounds and recreation facilities: $100,000
Emerald-Gembrook trail design: $100,000
Pedestrian and bicycle strategy: $100,000
Improvements to disability access: $100,000