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Moira's capital works concern

“How do you defend the indefensible?” These were the sentiments of Peter Mansfield, Mayor of Moira Shire, on the council’s 2014/15 draft budget’s capital works program.

FIONA BLICK May 6, 2014 3:11pm

“I want to make it clear these are my thoughts and my thoughts alone, I am not speaking on behalf of the shire,” Cr Mansfield said.

“I find it very difficult to defend the draft budget’s capital works program.

“The eastern end of the shire is getting very little and the western end gets nothing.

“This seems to have been the pattern over the last five years or so.”

Cr Mansfield said he was elected to represent the whole of Moira Shire.

“The whole shire is not getting the benefit of the capital works budget,” he said.

Council unanimously voted to release the 2014/15 draft budget for public consultation at a special meeting on April 28 in Cobram.

However, the council failed to present a detailed capital works program as part of the budget at the meeting.

New Finance Manager Warren Brown called it a simple “omission”.

The total budget for capital works is just over $9.7 million, however Cr Mansfield said only $3 million was set aside for development projects, the rest will be for “repairs and renewals”.

Of that $3 million, only $1.3 million is for new works (dust suppression, stage 2 of Cobram’s CBD development and the construction of a sealed carpark in Witt Street, Yarrawonga), the rest (developing the Cobram Library and Stage 1 of the Thompsons Beach Masterplan) has been deferred from this current financial year.

And out of that $1.3 million, Moira Shire Council has, or will, receive $1.2 million in government funding, leaving a total of approximately $115,000 of council’s money to be spent on new capital works projects.

It is not all bad news though.

General rates are proposed to increase by 5.5% but the municipal charge collections will only increase by 3.5%.

Hogans Road residents were also handed good news, with $15,000 budgeted to investigate options for a walking track.

Cr Mansfield said the proposed walking track would “connect growing residential areas to existing walking tracks”.

Cr Ed Cox moved the draft budget motion during the meeting and said “this was only a proposed budget”.

“We know everyone is doing it tough at state and federal level,” Cr Cox said.

“Businesses are trying to survive and homes are trying to balance their budgets.

“The hard reality is someone has to pay for the services the shire provides.”

Cr Cox called on the community to take an interest in this draft budget.

“I invite everyone to come in and have a chat to council,” he said.

Cr Alex Monk reiterated Cr Cox’s plea for residents to take an interest.

“We really need your feedback,” Cr Monk said.

“This is a very responsible budget this year.

“We are trying to do the best with restraint.

“We have had our challenges with VAGO (Victorian Auditor General’s Office) and we have to optimise the staff and get the best people possible.

“We also have to contain the escalation of waste management.

“I do acknowledge the capital works program is quite small in comparison to other years.”

Cr Wendy Buck told council the budget sought to balance demand with the shire’s capacity to pay.

“We don’t have the population other councils have,” Cr Buck said.

“Last year saw us tighten our belts and we have done a tremendous job.

“We rely on community support.”

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