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Council debt dissent

City of Greater Shepparton councillor Fern Summer votes against adoption of strategic resource plan.

DARREN LINTON June 25, 2014 3:04am

Greater Shepparton City Council’s strategic resource plan for the next four years includes new borrowings of $5.5million.

City of Greater Shepparton councillors voted 6-1 to adopt the plan at a special meeting last night, but Cr Fern Summer voted against the proposal primarily because of its timing.

Legislation demands the council submit the resource plan to the Victorian Government by Monday next week, even though the 2014-15 budget is still in draft form.

‘‘I would have thought a formalised budget should have come before a strategy,’’ Cr Summer said.

The 2014-15 to 2017-18 plan includes new borrowings for the Greater Shepparton Regional Sports Precinct project, with the first $2million included in the current draft budget.

Total borrowings will reach $21.490million, but that will reduce to $17.9million by June 2018.

Even so, in the last year of the plan the interest payments will total $1.3million.

The long-term financial plan forecasts ongoing annual increases in rates and charges of 4.95 per cent through to 2024, while total revenue growth from these sources will rise 5.95 per cent a year when growth is taken into account.

Employee costs, the largest item in the council’s expense column, will rise at 4.5 per cent a year, which takes into account changes to the superannuation guarantee and enterprise bargaining agreements.

Growth in full-time equivalent staff is forecast to be 0.5 per cent a year.

The plan outlines the growing cost of closing the asset renewal gap.

Council will have to increase spending on renewal and maintenance of assets such as buildings, roads and drainage by more than $6million each year to avoid community assets falling into a poor state.

The amount that needs to be spent each year is estimated at $25million, up $2million following updated costings for road infrastructure.

One recommendation in the report is development of an asset retirement policy to reduce the asset base where there is no longer a community requirement.

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