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‘Challenging’ draft budget 2020/21

By Corowa Free Press

Indigo Shire Council has adopted its draft budget for 2020/21, with Mayor Jenny O’Connor describing it as one of the most challenging the council has had to prepare.

Mayor O’Connor said the impact of COVID-19, the uncertainty of when restrictions will be fully lifted and the true extent of the economic fall-out has created a difficult environment in which to prepare a 12-month budget based on any real certainty.

She said council has had to take into account a number of assumptions around predicted loss of income as a result of the impact of COVID-19 and offset this with savings in some areas, without impacting on service delivery.

Delivered at Indigo Shire Council’s monthly meeting on Tuesday, May 26, the draft budget outlines a total operating income of $34.597M with total expenditure of $30.876M, including $10.771M in the capital works program.

Rates are proposed to increase by 2%, in line with the Victorian Government rate cap, which represent a $42.81 per year, or 0.82 cents per week extra cost to the average home. Domestic waste charges will increase by 2%.

“This budget enables us to continue to deliver the range and quality of services our community expects, from road construction, maternal and child health services, libraries, town planning, actions to protect and enhance our environment, providing leisure facilities, waste services and much more,” the mayor said.

“As a small rural council, we rely heavily on grant funding, which is one of the avenues that we will pursue in the hope of securing additional state and federal funds for our shire, particularly to support our businesses to recover from the double blow of bushfires and COVID-19.

“We’ve also included a $200,000 fighting fund for a business recovery strategy to assist with post COVID-19 economic recovery.”

Mayor O’Connor said council is acutely aware that some businesses and residents will struggle to pay their rates in the new financial year and encourages these people to consider the measures outlined in council’s Fire and COVID-19 support package and also council’s hardship policy.

“This is a budget that will be constantly reviewed and adjusted accordingly throughout the next 12 months. We will continue to keep our community informed and we ask for your understanding and patience as we all work through these unprecedented times,” she said.

“This is a budget that will be constantly reviewed and adjusted accordingly throughout the next 12 months. We will continue to keep our community informed and we ask for your understanding and patience as we all work through these unprecedented times.”

Certainties, including Rutherglen/Wahgunyah projects

The draft budget also includes funding of $113,000 Wahgunyah to Lake Moodemere Trail Stage 3 and $30,000 Rutherglen Place making Plan project (Future Focus of Place making). 

Mayor O’Connor continued: “What we can be certain about, is a number of projects that are predominately externally funded, will continue in 2020/21 and will play a vital role in our recovery. Work will continue on the $6M Beechworth to Yackandandah Rail Trail and the $2M EPIC Mountain Bike Track.”

The draft budget will now go on public exhibition and the community will be able to make submissions until close of business on Friday, June 26, 2020.

A final version will be considered by council at the July ordinary council meeting.