Budget adopted today

David Braithwaite

MINOR changes have been made to Wellington Shire Council’s 2019-20 budget, which will be adopted today.

Council considered 32 written submissions and 11 verbal submissions to the draft budget before completing the final budget.

According to council officers, the submissions have had no major financial effects on the draft budget.

The increase in the general council rate will remain at 2.5 per cent, in line with the state government’s cap on rate rises.

After receiving four submissions requesting funding for a new synthetic green at Loch Sport Bowls Club, council will provide $20,000 on the condition an application for the same amount from the Latrobe Valley Authority is successful, and the club raises the sufficient funds.

Council will review the need to build a safe boating harbour at Loch Sport.

The construction of a boat ramp at Lake Guthridge, Sale, to help sailors with disabilities taking part in Sailability Wellington will be brought forward from the 2020-21 financial year. Council will provide $12,000 for the project.

Council will also provide $3500 for the upgrade of electrical wiring at the Sale Water Tower. Its restoration and opening is seen to be making a significant contribution for local tourism.

An upgrade of the power supply at the Boisdale Recreation Reserve will be completed, thanks to $20,000 being included in the budget.

Council will provide $25,000 towards buying a new lawn mower for the Gordon Street Recreation Reserve, Heyfield, with the committee reserve to pay council in the form of a reduced operating subsidy. A similar arrangement will be put in place at the Maffra Recreation Reserve.

The Gippsland East Local Learning and Employment Network will receive $22,000 a year from council over the next three years for its Gippsland Higher Education Study Hub.

The budget includes funding to complete community engagement, concept design and detail design works to upgrade the Heyfield Skate Park.

Council received 11 submissions, including from Heyfield’s two primary schools.

The works have been earmarked to take place during the 2020-21 financial year.

Council will not support a request to become a ‘leadership council’ with the Alliance for Gambling Reform, citing the number of local programs already addressing gambling issues, including council’s partnership with the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation office in Sale and the Wellington Liquor Accord.

The budget includes a $40.49 million capital works program, with $36.63 million in new works.

Among the new works are $16.25 million for roads, footpaths, bridges and drainage; $10.96 million for buildings and landfill improvements; $3.07 million for parks, open space and streetscapes; $1.09 million for aerodromes, and $1.07 million for recreational, leisure and community facilities.

Among major projects are the stadium redevelopment at the Cameron Sporting Complex, Maffra; redevelopment of the pavilion at Stephenson Park, Sale; and extension of the Great Southern Rail Trail from Welshpool to Alberton.

The budget includes $1 million for drought support initiatives.

The final revaluation of properties has led to a slight change to capital improved values across the shire compared to the estimates in the draft budget, resulting in a decrease in rate income of about $104,000.

After considering its 2018-19 borrowing requirements, council has decided to defer loan borrowings of $2.5 million to later in 2019-20, which will decrease its loan interest next financial year by $121,000.

Other adjustments relate to minor changes from the deferral of some 2018-19 community projects to 2019-20, employee costs and depreciation changes.