Council looking to a $14.8m surplus

WELLINGTON Shire Council is expecting to record a surplus of $14.8 million this financial year.

According to council’s November performance report, the forecast budget is $2.3 million more than initially budgeted.

In the four months to November 30, council recorded a surplus of $40 million, $2.4 million more than budgeted for.

Much of the difference relates to $1.45 million in federal Roads to Recovery money being received early, as well as additional grants being received.

Much of this early surplus will be taken up by expenditure later in the financial year.

In four months, council spent $9.97 million on capital works, with $49.4 million to be spent by June 30 next year.

The contract has been awarded for the upgrade of the Port Albert Boat Ramp and Jetty, Yarram Regent Theatre refurbishment and sealing of cracks in the outdoor netball courts at the Gippsland Regional Sports Complex in Sale.

Overall, 51 projects were in pre-planning, five new contracts were awarded in November and 34 projects were underway.

Thirty-one projects had already reached completion.

Councillor Garry Stephens said council was in good shape heading into 2018.

“Financially, and with activities, I think council is in a good place and on track for another good year,” he said.

Council has also received an update on strategic land use planning projects.

Cr Gayle Maher said the North Sale development and developer contributions plans were anticipated to be completed next year.

“The drainage plan and the traffic impact assessment for the growth area have been finalised,” she said.

“This will inform the final preparation of the development plan.

“Work will then commence on the preparation of the associated developer contributions plan, which will seek to apportion costs across the infrastructure required.”

State Planning Minister Richard Wynne formally approved a planning scheme amendment, placing a heritage overlay on the Federal Coffee Palace in Yarram, in October.

The move ends the implementation of the second stage of council’s heritage study.

Most of this stage of the study, relating to 66 places around the shire, was approved by the minister in July.

Council was awaiting ministerial approval for the rezoning to allow for the new Sale Sewerage Pump Station to be built, and for a residential development in Wurruk, in and between the Sovereign and Park Ridge estates and down to Kilmany Park.

Council approved these rezonings earlier this year.

The state government is still seeking to resolve the issue of removing native title for the former Sale police station site.

At the request of the state Department of Justice, the former police station on the South Gippsland Highway was rezoned from the public use to residential growth zone to facilitate its sale.

A formal notice of approval of the rezoning was published in the Government Gazette in January last year.