Council belt stays tight

Residents have the chance to share their thoughts on the council's draft budget up until Tuesday 18 May. Pic: UNSPLASH

By Gabriella Payne

The Cardinia Shire Council’s draft budget for 2021-22 is now up online and as we bounce into post-Covid recovery, it seems keeping rates frugal and spending big on better infrastructure are two key priorities in this year’s proposed budget.

The total budget for the 2021-22 financial year sits at around $229 million, with around $135 million of that sum going towards operating expenditure (a 5.5% increase on the previous financial year) and about $94 million dedicated to capital expenditure (a 29% increase).

Rates are set to rise to the state government’s cap of 1.5% which, according to the Cardinia Shire Council’s chief finance officer, Scott Moore, is fairly low and “affordable”.

“So at 1.5% you’re looking at a $23 per annum increase in the average rates that the community is paying,” Mr Moore said, “or about 44 cents per week”.

“We think we’re being fairly prudent in trying to keep that rate burden for the community affordable.

And that’s one of our key budget principles – to try to not only have equity in sharing the rate burden, but also keep it affordable for people, particularly in the last twelve months with Covid and the financial hardships that people have been enduring,” he said.

Carol Jeffs, the CEO of the Cardinia Shire Council said that in this draft budget, the council “realised that post Covid, there needs to be a good amount of spending still out in the community”.

“While some people understandably are concerned about rates going up, at the same time, Council has a responsibility to keep spending happening in our local economy, and we do that through our projects and our initiatives,” Ms Jeffs said.

The $94 million for capital expenditure will be divided amongst a number of initiatives, with major projects and roads being two big ticket items.

The budget for road improvement works (which includes drains, footpaths, carparks and other related infrastructure) in the first year is just over $42 million, and there’s money going towards community facilities too.

“So in the first year, some of the major projects include the Officer District Park masterplan, so there’s just over $3 million devoted to that; we’ve got just over $4 million for the new MyPlace youth facility building; we’ve got $4.3 million towards a new integrated childcare learning centre at Timbertop, and the Rix Road one is $4.1 million,” Mr Moore said.

A further $2.3 million dollars has been devoted to library services across the shire, with another $1.6 million dollars going towards maternal and child health services.

Safe and inclusive communities services will gain $1.1 million and just over $1 million will go towards helping youth services.

Ms Jeffs and Mr Moore agreed that the Imagine Cardinia community consultation period had been “hugely successful” in helping shape both the draft budget and council plan and they encouraged residents to share their thoughts about the current 2021-22 draft before it was finalised.

Community consultation is open now and closes at close of business on the Tuesday 18 May.

For more information or to view the draft budget, visit