A look at the council's latest budget.CHALPAT SONTI April 30, 2014 3:06am
It wasn’t a surprise but the public reaction to a proposed seven per cent rate increase in Strathbogie Shire could yet have a say in determining how much more ratepayers will have to fork out.
The council voted last week to put the draft budget out for public comment (see story in this week’s Telegraph) and the rate rise is in line with that flagged in each of the past two budgets.
So what does it contain? There are a few things locally — the second stage of the Avenel Recreation Reserve upgrade ($100
The latter two are part of a $8.54 million capital works program, which itself includes $724
It wouldn’t take a genius to work out early that the Nagambie Main Street project would be delayed, and when it progresses much further still looks up in the air — external funding is crucial and it is a state election year so anything is possible. But big-ticket items should be scrutinised in the present environment — they are hard to justify without state or federal grants.
The council is keen to point out that about 40 per cent of the rate increase is for infrastructure renewal, and long-suffering residents who have had to put up with deteriorating infrastructure for years will have little argument with that. The council is sticking to its knitting.
But it also has to tread a fine balancing line between keeping what it’s got going and ratepayers capacity to pay. Cr Robin Weatherald claimed Strathbogie Shire ratepayers paid the highest rates in the state. Whether that is so or not, the rates are clearly out of whack with those neighbouring areas. A $300
The area which should come under most scrutiny by concerned ratepayers is the 60 per cent or so of the rates rise that has to pay for the increasing cost of council operations.
This is the obvious area to look for savings, but even then it is easier said than done. Councils use the excuse of cost-shifting by state and federal governments ad nauseam, but there is little doubt that the burden has slowly but surely transferred to that most captive of tax-payers, the ratepayer.
All we can ask for is that the council, our elected representatives, and indeed ourselves, keep the closest of eyes on the operational spending. Council budgets, and Strtahbogie is not alone, are notorious for bearing little resemblance to the actual figures a year later, and we all get the feeling that we’ve heard the same excuses before. For good reason.
Local government is, as governments go, by far the most open and transparent of governments but the price cannot be unsustainable increases in rates. Sooner or later something has to give. Indications of the shire’s sustainability should include that ability of residents to keep funding rate increases — which for the record are slated at six per cent in each of the following three years.
It’s not easy being in local government. But it’s not easy being in many jobs. And much of the captive ratepayer base is doing it tough. All the spin in the world doesn’t mask the fact that Nagambie, for example, is still feeling its way post-Bypass and any economic benefit is likely to be some way off. And the ratepayer base isn’t growing in Avenel.
The Telegraph urges every concerned Strathbogie Shire ratepayer to have their say on this draft budget. It’s an opportunity you don’t get with state or federal ones and you should make the most of it. Almost everyone has an idea on how to keep rates down and this is the time to air them.
Otherwise one day you could well end up with a whopping bill you’ll have no idea how to pay. And nobody wants that.
FOR MORE DETAILS ON THE BUDGET, SEE THIS WEEK’S TELEGRAPH
Two men charged over the armed robbery of a Shepparton service station have been remanded in custody until next week.
The 2014 Yarrawonga Mulwala Multisport Festival has been hailed a huge success by organisers and participants alike.
The fifth annual King Billy Retreat Open Garden Party will be held at Rushworth on Saturday and Sunday, October 25-26, from 10 am to 4 pm.
Echuca College students Calum Pearson, Luke Judd, Kiriana Epararma, Harriet Nilon, Kyle Melhuish and Stephanie Chong are heading to China.
A former Rochester resident is helping women with their confidence and their horses.
Accusations of bullying, disrespect and dangerous conduct.
And the school's best all-rounder for this year.
Finley's Mark Whiley has been traded from the GWS Giants to Carlton - the club he has supported all his life.
District residents are being invited to enjoy Oktooberfest celebrations at Tooborac Hotel and Brewery.
Momentum builds for the greatest show in Cobram, with young and old expected to lap up family attractions in sunny conditions.
Water users have welcomed the governments' announcement of a $350 million package for new irrigation efficiency programs in NSW, but say water availability is in need of improvement.
Farmers and anyone interested in big boys’ toys will be fascinated to check out an unmanned helicopter in action at an Ardmona orchard.
Judge comments, If I were single, I'd marry this steak!
Discover unbelievable local deals from local businesses every week in the Goulburn and Murray Valley area with Leapon.com.au!
Search properties for sale or rent across North Central Victoria and Southern NSW. Visit your local website for local homes....
Search for published and unpublished photos from McPherson Media Group newspapers and magazines. All our photos are available to purchase.
Place an advertisement in any one of McPherson Media Group's local newspapers.