By Kyra Gillespie

Cardinia Shire’s budget has been adopted unchallenged by councillors at their meeting on Monday 21 May for the 2018-’19 financial year.

Ratepayers have been handed an extra 2.5 per cent rate increase on last year’s two per cent, bringing the total amount raised by council in rates to $75.6 million.

It is the third budget to be affected by the State Government’s Fair Go Rates system that sees rate rises capped in according with the Melbourne Consumer Price Index.

Homeowners can expect to pay an additional 20 per cent on their garbage charge, bringing the annual spent to just over $283 as a result of the import restrictions imposed by China.

To counter the spike in garbage charges, the green waste charge is budgeted to decrease by $15 per rateable property.

Council’s internal services have received a generous slice of the pie.

Corporate management expenditure, defined in the budget document as a service to “provide leadership and direction to council staff”, has gone up from $3.463m to $4.205m (21.4 per cent) compared to the last budget.

Finance management has had an extra $1.2m cash injection, bringing expenditure to $6.373m, while council’s HR and Learning services spending has gone up to $1.742m (18 per cent).

Council also plan to spend another $1.772m on employees, bringing total staff expenditure to $34.8m, contributed to in part by the EBA increase.

Meanwhile Child and Family Services have been slashed by 18 per cent compared with last year’s budget, with $447k allocated.

With the help of state grants the budget includes $55.6m for capital works, funded by council cash of $22.3m and borrowings of $23.1m.

James Bathe Recreation Reserve has been allocated $2.025m and $4.724m has been put aside for The Lang Lang Recreation Facility.

The Bunyip Soccer Facility and Deep Creek Reserve are also set to receive generous investments.

The biggest talking point on the night of the Monday meeting was council’s additional $20m towards sealing strategic road links across the shire, which has in turn increased council borrowings by a further $1.045 million.

Cardinia Shire Mayor Cr Collin Ross said he was “proud” of the budget and said it reflected the hard work of council staff.

“This budget sees a record amount of community infrastructure spending and capital works and has built upon the hard work of previous councils,” Cr Ross said.

“I am really proud to present this budget. As the custodians of ratepayers’ money we as a council have a responsibility to do the right thing by the community and I think this budget is a fantastic reflection of that.”

Councillor Brett Owen took the opportunity to ease the minds of ratepayers in the outer fringes of the municipality in response to recent complaints about council’s alleged abandonment of rural roads and infrastructure in favour of the growth corridor areas.

“I ask community members to remember that money is poured into growth corridors by developers, contractors and grants, whereas the rural areas are funded only by the ratepayer,” he said.

“We want to remind residents that the rural community has not been forgotten.”

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