Wellington Shire Council records a $19m surplus

David Braithwaite

WELLINGTON Shire Council has recorded a $19 million surplus for the previous financial year, according to its interim 2019-20 report.

The $19 million surplus, is compared to $9.35 million council estimated when council adopted the budget last year.

Part of the variance comes from $7.2 million in 2020-21 government grants received early, gaining $3.8 million in unbudgeted drought rate relief, as well as the reduction of fees for council facilities because of COVID-19.

Capital expenditure was $31 million, including $5.4 million in works completed at the Cameron Sporting Complex, Maffra, and $4.7 million in Roads to Recovery projects.

Capital works not completed totalled $9.4 million, with $6 million in works delayed because of extended consultation with the community or other authorities and $1 million because of contractors being unavailable following the summer bushfires.

Councillor Garry Stephens said many issues had affected council operations and finances.

“I think we’ve had every form of emergency possible,” he said.

“Particularly we’ve been affected by the drought, then we had asbestos issues at Aqua Energy and, of course, more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

“But it’s great to see we’ve had a very positive outcome for the year.

“We’re basically in a very strong position.”

Council has also provided an update on projects up to the end of July.

Construction of the new changerooms at the Stratford Recreation Reserve began last month.

Works were scheduled to begin in August, but were brought forward because of the cancellation of the East Gippsland Football-Netball League season.

Demolition of existing structures have been completed to allow the construction of new female and family-friendly change rooms.

Works on the Cameron Sporting Complex indoor stadium are progressing according to schedule, with stage one largely complete.

Gymnastics will now operate in a smaller area of the facility during the next six months while stage two is completed.

The Heyfield Youth Play Precinct project, including the expansion of the skate park and construction of an asphalt pump track, is on track to be completed by Christmas.

Feedback for the Maffra Structure Plan has been received through a series of online workshops.

The findings will inform the next stage of the project, which aims to support residential development in Maffra.

Architects have presented to council the draft concept design and preliminary costings for the proposed replacement of the 25 metre pool and building and associated redevelopment of Aqua Energy, Sale.

The draft concept also includes improved change room amenities, new 24/7 gym access, indoor water play and a ‘changing places’ facility for adults with disabilities and their carers.

Council officers have begun developing a funding strategy for the project.