Mayoral Matters May 2023

Published on 04 May 2023

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As of this week, Monday 8 May 2023, we start our community consultation meetings in all 4 towns within the shire. I urge everyone to come along to these meetings and hear about the Council plan 2023/2024 actions and the coming year’s budget.

Last week, Council had the pleasure of allocating $1,080,000 to a range of infrastructure projects throughout the shire made possible through the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure (LRCI) grant funding from the Federal Government. Some of the projects include stage 1 of the Davis Park masterplan (total $1.225M including $525,000 Council contribution), cane ball court development at the Nhill tennis club, shade structure at the Rainbow skate park, upgrade of the Dimboola toddlers pool and upgrades of our shire’s playgrounds to make them more age appropriate as requested by groups in the early learning space. We have also recently had approval for $623,000 of road funding from the same funding stream, which is vital in keeping our vast network of roads maintained to a reasonable standard.

We have also had meetings shaping the budget coming up this financial year and this is also proving increasingly difficult as local government inflation is running at around 14 per cent (being heavily reliant on fuel and raw materials), whilst rates revenue has been capped at between 1.5 and 1.75 per cent in recent years. In reality, this means a diminishing of services or regularity of maintenance to make basically the same funding meet increased demands and costs.

I will leave you with some food for thought -:
In our shire, we have a sports oval and pavilion for every 1250 people approximately. The maintenance and refurbishment of these is very costly. It is not inconceivable that in metropolitan areas there is a sports ground every 10,000 people with the same expense spread over a much larger rate paying base. Obviously, sport is a very important part of our health and wellbeing framework and needs to be supported strongly.

What's the answer? I don't believe the answer is to keep increasing rates, an alternative source of funding for local government needs to be found be it higher forms of government or otherwise.

Cr Brett Ireland

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