Budget seeks to be ‘balanced, friendly’

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WINNERS and losers in Mornington Peninsula Shire’s 2019/20 budget include $25 million towards the Rosebud Aquatic centre and beach box owners being hit with increased annual fees.

The state government has set a 2.5 per cent cap on rate rises, although the shire has changed its rating strategy – and raise more money – to “focus on green wedge protection” and increased the waste collection costs.

The mayor Cr David Gill said the budget was “balanced and community friendly”.

Money too for boat ramps had been left out of the budget in anticipation of them being taken over in spring by the state government.

Cr Gill said councillors had included “many of community-building aspirations” that came from consulting the public in the lead up to adopting the budget earlier this month.

“Each year, council devises a budget to deliver the best outcomes for the needs and aspirations of our community,” he said.

“The 19/20 budget is fair, financially responsible and is delivered with some of the lowest rates of any council in Victoria.”

He said “elements of the budget focus on community capacity building, backing our volunteer sector and supporting the overall health of our residents”.

“The budget supports our vision to value, protect and improve the unique characteristics and way of life on our peninsula, while being financially responsible and delivering efficiencies and high-quality services.”

Included in the budget is $8.3m for township beautification; $2.7m to maintain of stormwater drains; $5.1m providing for roadside vegetation; $1.4m for to lessen and adapt to the effects of climate change; $5.4m for parks, open space and streetscapes; $3.9m for bushland and foreshore reserves; and $35.4m for waste services.

Listed under “our connectivity” is $12.5m to manage roads, paths, traffic and transport and $1.7m for school crossings in high risk locations.

Another $1.6m is for “economic development and tourism programs designed to promote the region, industry development and visitor servicing”.

The biggest single budget building item is $25m towards the next phase of the Rosebud Aquatic Centre.

Another $3.1m in capital works goes towards recreational leisure and community facilities; $4.9m for child and family health and youth services; and $1.9m to arts and culture.

CEO John Baker, in the introduction to his first budget for the shire, said he had “inherited a sustainable budget” but saw “challenges in the current environment”.

He said the shire was eighth lowest Victorian municipality for averaged rates and charges in 2018.

“Our total operating cost per assessable property is one of the lowest in the state ($1407 compared to the state average of $2566). This indicates that the shire is delivering essential services very efficiently, compared to the other 78 councils throughout the state.

“Despite our strong financial position, with cash reserves of over $40 million, the current rate capping environment creates challenges.”

Mr Baker said the budget’s projected spending of $164 million, included $70.4m on capital works “a 42 per cent increase in funding for important shire projects”.

He said construction of the $45m Rosebud Aquatic Centre would in the second half of this year with a view to being completed in late 2020.

Other major capital building works included $2.1m for the Mornington Community Centre, and $2m on the pavilion at Crib Point Recreation Reserve.

He said $9.1 million would be spent on road renewal and road safety improvements to make the shire a Towards Zero municipality.

The $1.4m allocated to lessen climate change continued the shire’s commitment to be carbon neutral by 2021.

Copies of the 2019/20 budget can be downloaded at mornpen.vic.gov.au/budget.

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 25 June 2019

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