Major development of Cobram’s Apex Reserve is one of many projects slated as part of Moira Shire Council’s draft budget 2017-18.
Councillors authorised the draft budget to be released for community consultation last Wednesday and urged residents to have their say on one of council’s most important decisions of the year.
Priorities in the budget include reduction of council debt and a capital works investment program of $9.7million, including $7.4million for asset renewal.
It will be council’s second budget under the two per cent rate cap and aims to provide a $1.7million surplus.
Cr Peter Mansfield said the draft budget had been prepared by councillors and staff over the past three months.
‘‘We’re in a rate-capping environment and we have a limited amount of money we can spend on capital works projects, which have been spread right across the shire,’’ Cr Mansfield said.
‘‘I emphasise this is a draft budget and I ask any person or organisation that wish to have a change in the budget to put their submissions in to council so we can hear them and take them into account for when we do schedule a special council meeting on June 14 to either pass the budget or look at it again.’’
Cr Ed Cox welcomed funding for Naring East Rd, after funding allocated last budget was reallocated for essential works across the shire following the October floods.
‘‘We’ve put it back into this year’s budget, albeit only half,’’ Cr Cox said.
‘‘We’re going to stage it over two budgets. I just want to reassure the residents of Naring East this road is back on track and thank them for their patience.
‘‘Apex Reserve in Cobram — that’s a major project there for this council to take on, and it is grant-dependent, so we’re looking to win a grant to help us there.’’
Cr Cox said there were a lot of ‘‘bread and butter’’ projects for council, which would also continue to advocate for the Goulburn-Murray Water Connections project, Strathmerton bypass, Yarrawonga-Mulwala bridge and other critical projects.
‘‘We’ve got to live within our means and we are doing a lot of smaller projects in the shire,’’ he said.
‘‘This budget stands us in a pretty good position financially.
‘‘If we hold our reins tight as a council, we will be basically debt-free at the end of this term of council, which will be a great position to be in.’’
Cr Kevin Bourke said capital works programs were down a bit, and would be a challenge with capped federal and state grants.
‘‘We’ve been quite restrictive, but this is a draft budget where we do need the community’s input,’’ Cr Bourke said.
‘‘There may be things people feel need to go in or there may be things they feel needs to come out.
‘‘We’re only here as representatives of the community. We need to have that input to tell us whether we’re doing the right or wrong thing.’’
Cr Marie Martin urged people to marry the draft council plan and draft budget together to see the considerations in the budget.
‘‘We’ve tried very hard to be fair right across the whole shire, because we are a very large shire and we certainly don’t want to be seen as parochial,’’ Cr Martin said.
Cr Wendy Buck quipped it would be great to be a metropolitan council with plenty of rate money to spend.
‘‘At Moira Shire, we’ve always had a longer wish list than we’ve got money to spend,’’ Cr Buck said.
‘‘I feel that each of the communities across the shire have got a piece of the budget, which has been pretty good.’’
●The budget is available to view at council service centres and on its website until 5pm on June 1, when submissions will also close. A meeting will be held on Monday, June 5, to hear anyone wishing to speak to their submissions.