Indigo Shire Council has formally adopted its budget for 2020/21, with the mayor describing it as one of the most challenging in the council’s history.
Mayor Jenny O’Connor said the 2020 summer bushfires followed by the devastating COVID-19 pandemic has created a very difficult environment in which to prepare a 12-month budget based on any real certainty.
She said council has had to take into account a number of assumptions around predicted loss of income as a result of COVID-19 and offset this with savings in some areas, without impacting on service delivery.
The budget outlines a total operating income of $36.837M with total expenditure of $31.264M, including $12.545M in the capital works program.
Rates will increase by 2%, in line with the Victorian Government rate cap, which represent a $40.57 per year, or 0.78 cents per week extra cost to the average home. Domestic waste charges will also increase by 2%.
“This budget ensures that we can continue to deliver the range and quality of services our community expects, from road construction, maternal and child health services, libraries, town planning, actions to protect and enhance our environment, providing leisure facilities, waste services and much more,” Mayor O’Connor said.
“We recently received some very welcome State and Federal Government funding news, including $2.5M to build the Chiltern Community Hub and $500,000 towards the Beechworth Precinct Renewal – Courthouse Kelly Trials Experience project which will be funded over a number of financial years. We’ve also received additional funding for roads and infrastructure projects and IT support.
“As a small rural council, we rely heavily on grant funding, which is critically important at this time when so many businesses and individuals are hurting as a result of the fires and COVID-19.
“We’ve set aside some additional funds to assist with business recovery. This will go towards initiatives to encourage visitors back into our towns once it is safe to do so.”
The Wahgunyah Traton Street footpath was considered for inclusion in the budget following a petition as part of the submissions on the budget.
It was not included in the budget for 2020/21 but is noted as the next top priority for Wahgunyah in the footpath expansion program.
A pathway crossing along Blanche Street over Sunday Creek (adjacent to Traton Street) was included in the budget, as well as a footpath to the Uncle Tobys factory along Barkly Street, which has been the top priority footpath in Wahgunyah for many years.