IT’S all hunky dory now. The South Gippsland Shire Council ultimately voted unanimously, at last Wednesday’s council meeting, to adopt its $63.9 million budget for 2017-18.
On the face of it then, it all sounds harmonious; everyone in agreement.
But no, it wasn’t like that at all as anyone who witnessed the carnage, streamed live on the Internet, could have told you.
First off, it was Cr Meg Edwards allegedly “grandstanding” according to some councillors, with an alternative motion about the $3.8 million needed in the 2018-19 financial year to upgrade the Mirboo North Pool.
Cr Edwards claimed funding a pool project to that extent, even a renewal project entirely out of ratepayers’ funds was out of kilter with what had been done with other community projects.
She proposed reducing the overall scope of the project to $3 million and that it not go ahead until grant funding of $200,000 and a local contribution of $500,000 was received, thereby cutting the ratepayers’ outlay to $2.3 million.
This, she said, would allow $600,000 extra to be released for roads, $300,000 for footpath extensions and $400,000 back into council’s bottom line.
Speaking against the motion, Cr Don Hill said he felt “physically sick that this has been brought up today”.
He claimed it was totally inappropriate behaviour.
“Will the pool be built if it doesn’t get a contribution? No and you know that full well,” said Cr Hill.
Cr Kiel said the Mirboo North community had made it clear that they were prepared to contribute $500,000 as a show of good faith.
But those speaking in opposition needn’t have bothered. It was lost on a vote of 8:1.
But there was to be a final twist before the budget was passed.
Cr Hill had an amendment of his own, calling for salary and on-cost figures proposed in the 2017-18 budget to be returned to the levels of the 2015-16 budget which finance manager Tom Lovass revealed could amount to more than $1 million in cuts to salaries or staff.
Ultimately this too was lost after Cr Lorraine Brunt successfully moved that that a report be brought to council “on how to reduce the combined salary and on-costs figures total proposed for the 2017/18 to the levels of 2016/17”. This could result in $600,000 savings on staff wages.
The move initiated by Cr Hill came out of a request from a budget submitter, Meg Knight, that wages and salaries be reduced but it was ruled as illegal an attempt by the council to establish a EFT (staff number) limit. This was exclusively the role of the CEO.
Council adopted its 2017/18 last Wednesday, finalising months of deliberation. Final projections for next financial year are now complete, resulting in a total budgeted expenditure of $63.9 million as well as expenditure on a capital works program of $22.7 million. The 2017/18 Capital Works Program is $2.3 million higher than allocated in 2016/17 and significantly higher than recent previous financial years.
Sixty-seven written submissions were received and considered from the Proposed Budget in May as part of the budget exhibition process.
Ray Argento congratulated all involved.
“This is a major achievement in a rate capped environment, it is required to ensure our community has vital infrastructure for the liveability of South Gippsland.
“Congratulations are in order for my fellow councillors and our staff for producing a financially stable budget and thank you to our residents who considered the budget and made submissions,” said the Mayor.
To view the adopted budget visit www.southgippsland.vic.gov.au/budgets.
The list of capital works includes the following: Yanakie camp kitchen and communal area renewal $108,000, Korumburra Recreation Centre $175,000, Franklin River toilet $259,000; Mirboo North Hall toilets $278,000, Foster Basketball Stadium upgrade and design $62,000, Waratah Bay Caravan toilet block renewal $142,000, Port Welshpool Caravan Park toilet block renewal $376,000, fleet purchases $1,037,000, plant purchases $2,258,000, information services $1,595,000, Bair Street Streetscape, Leongatha $4,610,000, Foster Streetscape $700,000, Korumburra Streetscape $179,000 and Fish Creek School Crossing $110,000.
The list of road works is available on line.