Council adopts its budget

David Braithwaite

WELLINGTON Shire Council adopted its 2019-20 budget on Tuesday.

As reported in Tuesday’s Gippsland Times, council made minor changes to the draft budget after considering 32 written and 11 verbal submissions.

Council confirmed it will conduct a feasibility study into a safe boating harbour at Loch Sport.

Councillor Darren McCubbin said, with such a project to be under Gippsland Ports’ authority, council would do what it could to see it happen.

“We do not control that lakes system, we do not control the funding of it, not the necessary recommendations or permissions,” he said.

“However, that doesn’t mean we can’t stand side-by-side with the local community, sharing their optimism and their vision for the future, and do what we can.

“What we can do is collect information in pushing that forward.”

A 2007 feasibility study determined that the foreshore area along Lake St adjacent to the identified commercial area was the preferred location for a safe harbour and marina, provided the town centre was further developed.

The report found the development of a safe harbour and marina was not economically feasible at that time, but noted such a facility would increase boating safety in the area and could be a major advantage to the expansion of tourism and boating activity, and the more development of Loch Sport.

The construction of a boat ramp at Lake Guthridge, Sale, will be brought forward to next financial year, following campaigning from Sailability Wellington, which helps people with disabilities enjoy sailing.

The group asked for the ramp so it can launch a rescue rubber duck with motor.

Council has allocated $12,000 for the works. Council will provide $20,000 for a new green at Loch Sport Bowls Club, but only if an application for the same amount from the Latrobe Valley Authority is successful, and the club raised sufficient funding.

After considering submissions, money was also allocated to upgrade electrical wiring at the Sale Water Tower and the power supply at the Boisdale Recreation Reserve.

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.

With a surplus of $9.3 million forecast, Cr Garry Stephens said council had adopted “another prudent budget”.

The budget includes $1 million to help farmers recover from the drought.

“Council’s working closely with our agricultural reference group as to how we’re going to use that money for the benefit of our farming communities, hopefully for the wider community as well,” Cr Stephens said.

“This will be an important part of our assistance in the ongoing drought situation that we face.

“It’s been wonderful that we’ve had a little bit of rain in the recent week, but we’ve still got a long way to go to recover from what is really a very major natural disaster in our shire.”

Council will continue the 20 per cent discount on farming rates.