Average rate rise $75

Rates to rise

A RISE in council rates and charges equates to $75 for the average residential property, according to Wellington Shire mayor Scott Rossetti.

The public can now comment on the Wellington Shire Council draft 2013-14 budget and plan.

Both documents are on public display, with feedback being sought until 5pm on May 14.

Council will consider submissions on May 21 before formally adopting the documents on June 4.

While it is proposed the council rate rises by six per cent, Cr Rossetti said the draft budget included an overall increase in rates and charges of 5.7 per cent, lower than the 6.6 per cent increase for last financial year and the forecast rise of 6.3 per cent this financial year.

“For the average residential property valuation of $237,235 it equates to an annual increase of $75, or $1.44 per week,” Cr Rossetti said.

“An important budget feature will be our ongoing support to our agricultural sector by maintaining the farm rate differential at 80 per cent.”

The waste infrastructure charge will remain at $32, while the garbage charge will increase by $5 to $169.

A separate EPA levy charge will remain at $14.92 for each property which receives a garbage collection service.

The rates notice will also include the Fire Services Levy, which local councils are collecting on behalf of the state government.

At $35.34 million, there will be a significant increase to the capital works program. In 2011-12, the program was $21 million, while it’s forecast to reach $22.9 million this financial year.

“We are delighted to continue the Yarram Community Hub project, with $4.9 million towards the construction works, expected to commence in October this year,” Cr Rossetti said.

“Yarram and its surrounding districts also benefit from a $2.1 million redevelopment of the Recreation Reserve.

“This facility is used by over 19 sporting and community groups and will be a huge boost to the local community,” he said.

“Another great project this financial year is the completion of the upgrade works to the Rosedale Pool ($635,000).

“Works are planned so that the pool is ready for the next swim season.”

Other works include $5 million to begin the Sale library and art gallery development, $800,000 to upgrade the Sale Livestock Exchange, $700,000 to widen Blyths Lane and Bundalaguah Rd, $250,000 for lighting upgrades at the Maffra Recreation Reserve, $150,000 to resurface tennis courts at Gordon Street Reserve tennis in Heyfield, $100,000 to replace the Macalister Wetlands Boardwalk in Maffra and $100,000 for the Stratford Community Health Hub.

“We have allocated $8.5 million for our day-to-day road management program, including management of our roads, drainage, footpaths and bridges,” Cr Rossetti said.

“This includes a contribution from the state government of $4.4 million.”

Council also provides a wide range of community services such as immunisations, libraries, retrieving lost and neglected dogs and school crossing attendants.

“When you begin to look closely at the services council provides, you begin to realise how broad the spectrum is,” Cr Rossetti said.

“It’s not all about roads, rates and rubbish.

“We will provide $425,000 to support many community organisations with our community grant schemes, including our environmental, facilities, events and programs grants.

“We will continue to maintain our open spaces, with $2.46 million for projects including $1.58 million on streetscapes, $340,000 on our parks and reserves, $240,000 on playgrounds, $145,000 on foreshore redevelopment, $85,000 for theme planting of major trees and $78,000 for urban furniture renewal.”

Cr Darren McCubbin warned that the amount due in the rate notices would be considerably higher because of the inclusion of the Fire Services Levy, which local councils were now collecting for the state government.

While the rise in rates and charges was greater then the increase in consumer price index of 2.2 per cent, Cr McCubbin said the CPI was a “very poor measure” of increases for council costs.

Only two councillors, John Duncan and Patrick McIvor, voted against the budget.

“Six per cent is too high, it’s unsustainable and we should be doing more to keep rate rises reasonable,” Cr McIvor said.

Public submissions are also open for mayoral and councillor allowances.

After a review, done in accordance with state government law, it was been proposed the mayor receive $69,325 a year plus superannuation, with councillors to receive $22,405 plus superannuation.

For more read Tuesday’s Gippsland Times.