Draft budget features $1.1 million pandemic support fund

A $1.1 million recovery fund to support the community and local business impacted by the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic headlines Macedon Ranges Shire Council’s draft budget for 2020/21.

The fund includes measures to help the community and local business recover from the pandemic, including additional funding for Council’s existing grant programs, waiver of footpath permit renewals for businesses with current permits, support for a business phone counselling service and backing for programs supporting volunteers and vulnerable people.

Councillors considered the draft Budget Report 2020/21, draft Strategic Resource Plan 2020/21 and draft Council Plan 2017-2027 (Year 4), incorporating the Health and Wellbeing Plan and Disability Action Plan at the Ordinary Council Meeting last night. Council resolved to make the documents available for public comment for four weeks from Tuesday June 2.

Chief Executive Officer, Margot Stork said each year Council aimed to produce a balanced budget, where income equalled expenditure. Council’s annual income for 2020/21 is around $100 million, which is mainly comprised of rates, grants, service fees and charges.

“The draft budget includes $23.6 million in capital works projects across the shire which will provide a much-needed boost for the local economy and maintain and create jobs,” Ms Stork said.

New capital works include a new kindergarten in Kyneton, the next stage of the Romsey Ecotherapy park, new netball courts in Woodend, oval lighting at Lancefield Park, a continuation of works to build the Macedon Ranges Regional Sports Precinct in New Gisborne, and a range of renewal works at other community facilities along with the annual roads and footpaths improvement programs.

A two per cent rate rise, in line with the state-imposed rate cap, is proposed. While the rate cap ensures rates do not rise significantly, Council waste charges are separate and are not capped. Council’s waste charges are adjusted annually and are aimed only at recovering the costs of providing the service.

“Under rate capping, if rates are not increased in one year it has long term impacts on Council’s ability to fund its services and works on roads, footpaths, facilities and other community assets,” Ms Stork said.

The average rate increase for a household in the shire will be 2.5% inclusive of the waste charge. This is around $57 for the average household or around $1 per week.

Mayor, Cr Janet Pearce encouraged the community to review the documents and provide feedback.

“The changing situation and the impact COVID-19 has had on the entire shire has been challenging, and it has meant we have all needed to adapt,” Cr Pearce said.

“In planning the budget Councillors have had consider many implications as we move through the emergency phase and into the recovery phase, looking at both the short term and long term implications. We are looking for a balance and supporting the needs of our community and businesses.”

The Draft Budget 2020/21, along with the Draft Council Plan 2017–2027 (Year 4) and Draft Strategic Resource Plan 2020-21 will be available on the Have your say section from Tuesday 2 June.

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