The Benalla Rural City Council has released a Proposed Budget for 2014/15 that has allowed for significant progress on a number of key capital works projects identified as high priorities in the Council Plan, while keeping the cost of maintaining current service levels as low as possible.
Benalla residents and ratepayers will have until 11 June to give feedback on the document.
“This is a responsible budget that will ensure that the Council can maintain its low risk rating for financial sustainability,” said Mayor of Benalla Rural City Council, Cr Barbara Alexander. “We have undertaken a robust and comprehensive process to get to this point.”
The budget proposes a 4% increase in funding allocated to the Council’s capital works program, including key projects such as the Sir Edward “Weary” Dunlop Learning Centre, Benalla Landfill and Resource Centre cell construction and rehabilitation, strengthening and remedial works on the Ackerley Avenue Bridge (stock bridge) and airport improvements. It proposes a 1% increase in the cost of delivering services. These increases will be funded by an overall increase in rates and charges revenue of 5%.
The budgeted surplus for the 2014/15 financial year of $1.831 million is mainly due to the receipt of capital grants of $2.982 million.
“The savings in operational costs amounting to $250,000 are the maximum we can make while still delivering services at an appropriate level,” Mr McIlroy said.
Mr McIlroy explained that an overall 5% increase in rates and charges revenue did not automatically mean a 5% increase in everyone’s rates notice.
“This year has been a general valuation year, and there has been an overall increase in the value of properties of 2.6%,” he said. “We have also had an increase in the number of rateable properties, and we have included provision for rates on further new properties during the coming year. The amount that rates will change will vary across different properties. Ratepayers are able to appeal the result of their property valuation in the sixty days following the issuing of rates notices, and should contact the Council should they wish to do so.”
Mr McIlroy also reminded ratepayers that increases in charges such as waste are the result of increases to State Government levies and changes to the regulations around managing waste.
As well as providing for key capital works projects, the Proposed Budget 2014/15 allows for the progression to “shovel ready” status of other capital projects such as the redevelopment of the Aquatic Centre, the Benalla Airport and the Visitor Information Centre, further subdivision of the Council’s industrial estate Enterprise Park, and the development of a Master Plan for the Benalla Art Gallery.
The Proposed Budget also allows for the Council to reduce its indebtedness ratio to below 35% by 2016/17, well below the State Government’s threshold. The Council adopted this approach of reducing debt to provide future capacity for the completion of the above “shovel ready” projects.
Cr Alexander is calling for as many people as possible to read the budget document and make a submission.
“This is a Proposed Budget, and this submission period is the perfect opportunity for people to have some influence about the final budget result,” she said. “This is your chance to make a submission and have your points considered.”
Submissions must be made in writing to the Benalla Rural City Council by 5pm on Wednesday 11 June. They can be posted to PO Box 227, Benalla, 3671, or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.orgUUHH. Members of the community can elect to be heard on their submission at a meeting of the Council on 18 June 2014. Please indicate on your submission if you wish to be heard.
The Proposed Budget can be downloaded from the link below, or viewed at the Customer Service Centre, 1 Bridge Street East, Benalla, during business hours. Call (03) 5760 2600 for more information.