Only two people turned up for a community forum about Greater Shepparton City Council’s 2014-15 draft budget at Tatura’s Ballantyne Centre last Monday evening.BOB NICOL July 9, 2014 3:55am
Disappointing outcome: Greater Shepparton City councillors Michael Polan, Mayor Jenny Houlihan, Kevin ‘Gunna’ Ryan and Dennis Patterson out-numbered attendees at last Monday night’s budget forum at the Ballantyne Centre.
They were Guardian editor Bob Nicol and Tatura Community Plan Committee chair Carl Walters.
Greater Shepparton was represented by four councillors, including Mayor Jenny Houlihan, and six senior staff members.
With the no-show, three councillors and two senior staff left before the meeting began.
Cr Kevin ‘Gunna’ Ryan, one of four councillors present, was furious with the no-show, telling the Guardian ‘‘I don’t know why we bother putting these forums on’’.
‘‘I am embarrassed for the council,’’ he said.
Instead of cancelling the forum, council’s acting director of business Rosanne Kava proceeded with an abridged meeting, providing a brief insight into the 2014-15 budget process, which sees provision for an upgrade of the outdoor area of Tatura Park, including a roof structure ($625 000); rural drainage under the Tatura Flood Plan, Stage Three ($248 000); solar tubing at Tatura Swimming Pool ($25 000); hypo storage tank renewal at Merrigum Swimming Pool ($18 000); and a toilet upgrade at Toolamba ($120 000).
In a brief overview of the 2014-15 draft budget, Ms Kava said rates and charges would increase by 4.95 per cent, as forecast last year.
She said the draft budget also included implementation of the Rating Strategy 2013-17.
‘‘Total operating revenue is $111 million (excluding capital) and total operating expenses are $111 million (excluding capital),’’ Ms Kava said.
‘‘The capital works program is $37 million and there will be a continued commitment to asset renewal.
‘‘The total capital revenue is $6 million and council proposes borrowing $2 million to assist with the development of Shepparton Sport’s Precinct.’’
Ms Kava said there were some 100 projects budgeted for in 2014-15.
Mr Walters expressed disappointment that a number of items listed for funding in the Tatura Community Plan, including walking tracks around Lake Bartlett, were not included in this year’s draft budget and said the committee would be putting in a submission to try and rectify the situation.
Cr Houlihan said the 2014-15 Greater Shepparton City Council budget had been built on the priorities council established for the 2013-17 Council Plan under the five key strategic objectives: active and engages community (social), enhancing the environment (natural), economic prosperity (economic), quality infrastructure (built) and high performing organisation (leadership and governance).
‘‘To achieve this, council delivers more than 150 services to the community through various programs, activities, grants and projects which are aligned to the Strategic Resource Plan and resourced by the annual budget,’’ she said.
‘‘The ongoing challenge to council is in obtaining an appropriate balance between community expectations and desires with the funds available.
‘‘To ensure the optimum utilisation of every dollar raised, council continues to investigate operational efficiencies to reduce ongoing expenditure and work towards a more financially sustainable organisation.
‘‘I encourage you all to read through our draft budget and provide feedback during the consultation process.’’
Ms Kava said public submissions on the draft budget closed at 5 pm on Friday, July 18, with council to hear submissions from 5.30 pm on Tuesday, July 22.
‘‘A special council meeting will be held on Tuesday, August 5 to consider the adoption of the 2014-15 budget,’’ she said.
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