A local commitment to respond to the global climate emergency is at the core of Surf Coast Shire Council’s Draft Budget Report 2022-23.
It is the first budget based on the 2021-2025 Council Plan, delivering on the community vision to value, protect and enhance the natural environment. Council will become an Australian Government-certified carbon neutral organisation in June 2022 – an achievement that headlines a range of environmental initiatives.
“One of our goals is to protect our environment and help our community to thrive through environmental leadership, so it’s pleasing the budget demonstrates how we continue to work towards this,” Mayor Libby Stapleton said.
“The budget supports the ongoing certification as a carbon neutral organisation, which involves continually taking action to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, while residual emissions – which mostly come from our landfill – will be offset.”
The next stage of the Anglesea Landfill Rehabilitation is a key project in the budget. It joins other environment-focused initiatives such as a litter enforcement program, Karaaf Wetlands stormwater management, Aireys Inlet and Anglesea drainage investigation, Winchelsea tree planting program, and ongoing funding for the Towards Environmental Leadership program.
“Our community climate survey last year told us that our community is already experiencing climate impacts, and we’ve seen it recently with several extreme weather events.” Cr Stapleton said. “We recognise we need to become more climate-resilient, and hope the budget helps pave the way for this. It also shows a commitment to renewable energy as we continue to explore more solar and energy savings at Council sites, along with more electric vehicle charging stations across the shire.”
The budget also delivers on the community vision to be an active, diverse community that lives creatively.
“Our creative focus is taking centre stage in the budget, supporting our goal to acknowledge the value of arts and creativity, and to nurture their growth. It’s highlighted by an $88,000 investment to expand the arts and culture service. This joins a $50,000 allocation to the arts program over the next two years, and a $36,000 continued investment in the Anglesea Art Space,” Cr Stapleton said.
“We want to foster a connected community, so we’re excited by significant infrastructure projects such as the Winchelsea Pool renewal, Eastern Reserve netball courts resurfacing and MAC upgrade – all of which will result in invaluable health and wellbeing outcomes.
“We also want to leave the Surf Coast better than we found it for our children, who we’re supporting to have the best start in life. This is reflected through our core services including kindergarten programs and immunisations, and the expansion of our Maternal and Child Health service.”
A $34.5 million capital works program lays the foundation for the budget, $13.5 million of which is spent on new projects to be delivered. Meanwhile $11.6 million is allocated for renewing existing assets – topped by the $2.1 million Winchelsea Pool renewal – and $12.9 million for roads upgrades, maintenance and renewal. The latter includes Horseshoe Bend Road-Blackgate Road reconstruction works, Torquay North traffic improvements, and Aboriginal language on signs to support First Nations Reconciliation.
Mayor Stapleton was proud Council had made modest improvements to its financial position compared to the 2021-31 Financial Plan. She was pleased the organisation continued its three business reform programs, to generate permanent savings that contribute to long-term financial sustainability.
“An additional $320,000 of ongoing savings was generated from the program last financial year,” she said. “These savings are important, particularly knowing that renewal remains a key challenge for Council. We’ve been transparent with the community about this challenge, and expect the backlog – sitting at $14.7million in the 2022-23 Budget – will start to reduce from 2028-29. Of course it’s vital that assets are safe and fit-for-purpose for the community.”
The budget includes a proposed rate increase of 1.75 per cent, in line with the rate cap set by the Victorian Government. The annual increase in rate revenue is essential for Council’s future viability, and ability to support the community and meet its aspirations.
The urban garbage collection fee is budgeted to increase by 5 per cent (to $455) and the rural garbage collection by 8 per cent (to $388). The rural increase is higher to align the two garbage collection charges over the next four years.
“We acknowledge this is significant, and can be attributed to the increase to waste collection and disposal costs, including Victorian Government EPA levies,” the Mayor said.
To view the Draft Budget 2022-23, go to surfcoast.vic.gov.au/budget22-23, visit Council office at 1 Merrijig Drive Torquay, or call 5261 0600 to arrange a relevant section to be posted to you.
Anyone can make a submission to the Draft Budget Report 2022-23 via the website or by writing to: Chief Executive Officer, Surf Coast Shire Council, PO Box 350, Torquay, VIC 3228. Submissions must be received by 10am on Tuesday 24 May 2022.