Recycled waste impacts budget

By Benalla Ensign

The increased cost of managing recycled waste and rate capping has made the 2018/19 Benalla Rural City Council Budget deliberations a difficult task.

In late 2017, China announced it would stop taking ‘‘foreign garbage’’ — including the 600000 tonnes annually of low-quality recyclable materials from Australia.

In the 2017/18 financial year, Benalla Rural City produced 1562 tonnes of recycled waste.

In 2015, the Victorian Government introduced rate-capping legislation, which included an annual rate cap set by the Local Government Minister, which controls general rate increases, and revenue, for all councils during that financial year.

The cap for 2017/18 was 2.0 per cent and for the 2018/19 financial year is at 2.25 per cent.

The council, at its meeting on April 18, released a proposed 2018/19 budget that includes a maximum rate increase of 2.25per cent and a waste service charge increase of nine per cent plus a $33 per property charge to cover potential increases in recycling costs.

The proposed budget details $29.2 million revenue and $29.1million expenditure representing a small surplus of $75000.

The proposed budget also includes $4.195 million in capital projects for the construction of roads, bridges, footpaths, a Landfill cell and plant replacement.

Chief executive officer Tony McIlroy said ongoing service delivery within a financially sustainable framework is central to the council’s operations and budget considerations.

‘‘This will be the third year the council has been implementing its internally driven strategy of doing the same with less,’’ Mr McIlroy said.

‘‘We have reduced our staff costs from 49 per cent to 40.2 per cent of total operating expenditure and we are continually working to ensure we are delivering services in the most efficient, sustainable way.

‘‘There has never been a tougher time for rural councils and the council has been working on preparing a sustainable budget since late January.’’

The community now has the opportunity to provide feedback and make submissions on the Proposed Budget until May 23.

The 2018/19 budget will be adopted by the council on June 27 in preparation for the new financial year starting on July 1.