Rate revenue to increase by 1.5%

David Braithwaite

WELLINGTON Shire Council is set to propose a 1.5 per cent increase in revenue from general rate for the next financial year.

Council will tonight vote to release its draft 2021-22 budget for public comment.

The 1.5 per cent increase in general rate revenue is in line with the state government’s cap for rises this year.

In response to the pandemic, council last year delivered its first ‘rate freeze’, with no increase.

In his introduction to the budget, mayor Garry Stephens said council was resolved to “maintaining and enhancing services, while working within the cap”.

“It is also important to note, that while there may be some minor variations in rates between individual properties (some may go up while others go down based solely on movement in valuations, which are completed each year by the state government Valuer-General), overall council’s revenue from general rates income will increase by 1.5 per cent,” he wrote.

Council will retain the differential rate for farm land.

General rates aren’t the only thing set to increase, with council proposing to raise the garbage charge from $222 to $234.20, following a review of waste management costs.

The EPA levy charge will increase from $16.92 to $18.15 to cover increases in the prescribed municipal and industrial waste levies, as set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The waste infrastructure charge will remain at $55.

The draft budget includes $50 million in capital works, including projects carried over from the current financial year.

Of the $44.5 million in new works, $22.9 million will be funded by council, $18.3 million from external grants and contributions and $3.3 million from borrowings.

In Sale, $2.77 million has been allocated for the redevelopment of the Stephenson Park changerooms, $1.995 million for an environmental education centre and wetland project, $1.786 million to renew York St, and $751,000 for a roundabout at the intersection of Lansdowne and Macarthur Sts.

Maffra Recreation Reserve’s netball courts and lights will be upgraded ($435,000), while $300,000 will go towards the town’s stormwater retention basin and outfall improvement works.

Pound Rd, Yarram, will be widened ($770,000), and works will begin on a heated pool in Yarram ($320,000).

Gordon St, Heyfield, will be renewed between George and Harbeck Sts ($450,000), the Great Southern Rail Trail will be extended from Welshpool to Alberton ($1.8 million), Sloping Bridge, Alberton West, will be widened ($803,000), the Briagolong tennis courts will be upgraded ($571,000), road safety treatments and car park work will be undertaken in Loch Sport ($400,000) and the Seacombe boat ramp will be upgraded ($39,000).

Other works include a streetscape master plan for Cowwarr, solar upgrade for the Stratford pool, and biodiversity enhancement along Cricket St, Rosedale.

The budget includes $14.5 million for roads, bridges and drainage, plus $3.9 million on residential street schemes and $10.7 million on footpaths.

Council will consider submissions during a special meeting on May 27, before formally adopting the budget on June 15. Tonight’s meeting begins at 6pm.