It’s budget time of year – first the State Government followed by us and then the Federal Government.
Unlike other levels of Government, our budget is put out for public comment prior to being adopted. It was made available to the community last Friday, and I encourage you to look at the document and have your say.
Council’s $52.25 million draft budget outlines more than 100 services that Council delivers across the municipality – from roads and rubbish, to services for children, youth and the elderly, arts and culture, and supporting local business to grow.
The draft budget outlines major infrastructure and road projects that we aim to complete in the coming year. And it outlines how each of these services and projects will be funded.
Among the projects that you will see listed are a new Lake Boga education hub, a new Ken Harrison Reserve soccer pavilion, beautifying Bromley Road in Robinvale, projects from the Swan Hill Riverfront Masterplan, and funds to promote our entire region.
We have also increased funding for Community Plan implementation, which means towns like Ultima, Lake Boga, Nyah district, Beverford, Woorinen, Robinvale, Boundary Bend and Manangatang have funding available to deliver some priorities from their own plans.
It is especially pleasing this year that we can deliver all this within the State Government mandated rate cap of 2.25 per cent. In fact, the average rate increase for 2018/19 will be below the cap, at 2.05 per cent.
While the rate cap poses challenges as we put together and then deliver each annual budget, Council is determined to minimise financial pressure on the community, while maintaining, and in some cases enhancing, community services.
It is also worth noting one change to our rate modelling this year, which was made with this ethos in mind. The discount applied to dryland farming properties will be increased to 15 per cent to offset high increases in property values, and means rate rises will be more evenly distributed across property types.
We have worked hard to get the balance right in this draft budget, and I now encourage community feedback.
Two information sessions will be held, where you can learn more and ask questions. They will be at Swan Hill Region Information Centre on 14 May and the Robinvale Resource Centre on 16 May, both at 6pm. We will also stream the Swan Hill meeting live on Facebook – just search for Council’s Facebook page to take part.
To make a submission, visit www.swanhill.vic.gov.au/yoursay, email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to the Chief Executive Officer, Swan Hill Rural City Council, PO Box 488, Swan Hill VIC 3585. Submissions close 1 June.
Print and Drawing Awards
The art gallery’s night of nights is on tomorrow, and I’m pleased to say that the new deck and lawn at the front of the Gallery will get its maiden run.
The National Print and Drawing Acquisitive Awards attract entries from across Australia from some of the country’s finest artists.
If you are interested in joining me, the judges and some of the artists at the award night, please get in touch with the Gallery. Double A Jazz Band will be providing some music, and there will be finger food and drinks.