Big ticket items in budget

Maffra’s Cameron Sporting Complex is set to receive a $4.25 million makeover.

Maffra’s Cameron Sporting Complex is set to receive a $4.25 million makeover.

A $4.25 MILLION redevelopment of the stadium at the Cameron Sporting Complex, Maffra, is a major feature of Wellington Shire Council’s draft 2018-19 budget.

The draft budget, to be released tonight for public comment, includes a proposed average rate rise of 2.25 per cent.

The rate increase is in line with the state government’s rate cap.

If the budget is adopted, council estimates it will raise $54.226 million in rates next financial year.

The garbage charge will increase from $187 to $222 per property, mainly because of the effect China’s ban on importing recyclable waste has had on the recycling industry.

This has led to a significant increase in council’s costs of recycling and handling.

The increasing cost of complying with Environmental Protection Authority requirements for landfills and transfer stations has resulted in the waste infrastructure charge rising from $50 to $55.

The EPA levy charge will increase to $16.92.

Council is looking at a surplus of $16.175 million, compared to the forecast surplus for 2017-18 of $10.736 million.

According to council, the proposed increase in rates and charges took into account the current economic climate and effects on ratepayers, while recognising the need to provide an acceptable level of service to the community.

The budget includes a $43.6 million capital works program, including projects carried over from 2017-18.

Of the $37.412 million in new works, $17.3 million comes from council operations, $15.6 million from external grants and contributions, and $4.8 million from borrowings.

The stand-out project is the redevelopment of the Cameron Sporting Complex stadium.

The works will result in the Maffra Amateur Basketball Association receiving two new courts, with one of its current courts taken over by the Maffra Gymnastic Club.

Both have sought room to expand to accommodate increased demand.

Funding for the redevelopment will come from government grants ($2 million), contributions ($250,000) and borrowings ($2 million).

Council has also allocated $200,000 for open space works at the complex.

Maffra Gymnastic Club head coach Robyn Dowse said the expansion was desperately needed, as Maffra has hosted large competitions and participation was growing.

“If we get the gym extended, we can get more kids off the waiting list, and it would help with the organising for competitions,” she said.

“We never have enough viewing areas, even for end of year displays, so there’d be more seating and more room to fit all the equipment that we need.”

She said for competitions they currently had to put a lot of equipment away, sometimes in the basketball court area, so spectators’ views were not blocked.

MABA president Yvonne Higgins added having an extra court would improve flexibility, and allow other sports to hold training sessions at the complex.

“Volleyball’s really interested — volleyball’s huge in Maffra,” she said, noting almost 600 basketball players had signed up for the new season.

“We’ve got training into games every night (of the week), plus weekend training, and it’s pretty hard, because you’re a small town and you’ve got all the different sports, and we accommodate all of them with training.

“Everyone helps everyone in Maffra in terms of what nights football have, and netball, tennis — you have to accommodate everyone.”

Another sporting facility to benefit from works will be the Gordon St Recreation Reserve, Heyfield, with upgrades to the netball and tennis courts ($290,000 and $75,000 respectively), cricket nets ($81,000) and oval lighting ($250,000).

Reserve committee member Malcolm Hole said the four tennis courts were not up to scratch.

“They were upgraded some years ago, but  nfortunately

the material that was used at the base had some sort of acidic reaction to the top seal,” he said.

“They are going to be remedied and brought up to the visual appearance of other courts around the shire.”

The Sale Tennis Club redevelopment ($1.824 million), Gippsland Regional Sports Complex stadium floor upgrade ($850,000), Briagolong Recreation Reserve pavilion redevelopment ($330,000), Baldwin Recreation Reserve, Sale, change room upgrade ($150,000), and Stephenson Park change room redevelopment ($80,000) are also included in the budget.

The extension of the runway at West Sale Airport ($5.495 million) will happen during the next financial year.

Currently measuring 1500 metres, the runway will be lengthened to 1920m so it can be used as part of the RAAF AIR 5428 Pilot Training System.

The proposed capital works program also includes funding for the Maffra streetscape renewal ($2.15 million); Sale CBD infrastructure renewal ($1.5 million); safety upgrades on Beverleys Rd, Stockdale ($528,000), upgrades of Johnsons Rd, Longford, and Firebrace Rd, Heyfield ($723,000 and $594,000 respectively); Seacombe boat ramp upgrade ($435,000), works at Prince Street Reserve, Rosedale ($110,000), and quarter basketball court and skate park shelter at Loch Sport ($30,000).

Council will consider budget submissions during a special meeting on Tuesday, May 29, and adopt the final budget on Tuesday, June 5.

- with Alex Ford

Gippsland Senior
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