THE Bass Coast Shire Council has just produced a controversial new budget which relies on $4.3 million in new borrowings and considerable success with government grant applications to make it fly.
Rate increases have been capped at 2 per cent but the garbage charge is up by almost $50, from $327 to $374, for a new three-bin service.
Total rates and charges for the 2017/18 year are expected to be $54.9 million, which is an increase of 5.3 per cent on the year prior.
At the end of the 2017-18 financial year, the shire expects to have blown its borrowings out by more than $3 million to $16.8 million, resulting in an interest rate bill, going forward, of more than $700,000 per annum.
South Gippsland Shire, by comparison, will have borrowings of $3.35 million by June 30, 2018.
And while Bass Coast is preaching wage restraint in its draft document (“Employee Cost increases have been contained to 2.15% from 2016/17 budget”), staff wages are expected to increase by $1 million a year over the next four years, hitting $33 million by the 2020-21 financial year.
There are no reductions in staffing levels, staying at 314.6 EFT over the four years.
Highlights in this year’s budget include an $18.6 million capital works program, down from a forecast $20.5m this year; featuring $1.6m to renovate the arts centre in Wonthaggi, $1.7m to provide offices for Phillip Island Nature Parks in Cowes, $467,000 for the Bourne Creek Pedestrian Bridge (rail trail) renewal and $408,000 to extend the Surf Parade pathway in Inverloch.
There’ll also be $1.325 million towards the cost of the Cowes Transit Hub but first the shire must get a $900,000 contribution from the government; $745,000 for traffic lights in Wonthaggi’s CBD and $100,000 for the Dalyston netball courts.
The Dalyston changerooms are also to be redeveloped at an, as yet, undisclosed cost.
The shire will also commit $1.5 million to the $6 million cost of a new shared sports stadium in Wonthaggi, however this is not counted within the capital works budget because it will form part of the proposed Wonthaggi Secondary College senior campus building project should it be funded as expected in the May State Budget.
All things considered, it’s a potentially exciting mix of asset renewal, service delivery and capital improvement but the devil is bound to be in the detail and the community has until May 30 to get a clear picture of what’s in and what’s out.
The public consultation period starts at a Special Meeting of council in Wonthaggi at 5pm this Wednesday, April 26 where Council will consider the draft documents. They will then be holding drop-in sessions where you can come along and have a chat about the draft budget and the draft council plan it seeks to deliver.
Sessions will be held on:
• Monday, May 15 from 6.30pm to 7.30pm at Cowes Cultural Centre Hall
• Tuesday, May 16 from 6.30pm to 7.30pm at Grantville Hall, and
• Monday, May 22 from 6.30pm to 7.30pm at Inverloch Community Hub.
There’ll also be an online Q&A on Tuesday, May 23 from 6.30pm to 7.30pm at
Submissions to the draft plan or pudget can be made in writing by emailing or by mail to Bass Coast Shire Council, PO Box 118, Wonthaggi, 3995.
If you wish to speak to your submission, you must advise council in your email or letter.
Submissions will be heard from 4.30pm on Wednesday, June 7 at a Special Meeting of Council.