A Message from the CEO - 2018-19 Council Budget adopted

Published on 28 June 2018

Sunil Bhalla CEO.jpg

Council’s 2018-19 Budget, Rates Strategy and updated Council Plan were adopted at a Special Meeting on Monday night.

The budget details how the organisation will continue to deliver the more than 100 vital services, facilities and infrastructure to more than 19,000 residents. It also details funding for many capital works projects which will significantly improve roads, parks, open spaces, drainage infrastructure and waste services.

The budget was put out for public comment over four weeks, with submissions closing on 5 June, 2018. Although only eight people made formal submissions, more than 100 residents filled the Council Chamber for the Special Meeting.

The vast majority of those were farmers and they made it clear they were unhappy with potential increases in their rates.

The total amount each property owner pays in rates is determined by multiplying the Rate in the Dollar by the Capital Improved Value (CIV) of their property.

So the rates bill for each ratepayer will vary, depending on the individual valuation of their property. 

If a property’s value has increased this year compared to last year, then it is likely the rate bill for that property will increase also. 

This is indeed the case for many Wimmera farmers whose property values have surged, while residential properties have not.  While increased net worth brings many benefits to farm businesses, unfortunately it can also mean farmers pay more for their rates.

In line with our commitment to support farmers in the area, the rate in the dollar for farmland is 20 per cent less than the general rate. In essence, what the farmers had requested was a further discount.   

However, Council voted to adopt the proposed budget, which meant a rate increase of 11.8 percent for the farm sector, while the residential sector is due to decrease by 0.6 percent.

Council would like to thank all residents who contributed to the Budget process during public meetings. All submissions and comments were considered when deciding the final Budget.

I am confident that this budget will ensure we continue to provide valued services to the community and deliver a comprehensive Capital Works Program over the next 12 months.

In this budget, $15.05 million has been allocated to capital works, $8.32 million will be spent on renewal works, $1.89 million for asset upgrades and $4.83 million will be put towards new assets.

New assets include $2.49 million for the further development of the Wimmera Intermodal Freight Terminal, $0.98 million for new plant and equipment, $0.34 million for footpaths and cycle-ways and $0.77 million for buildings.

A significant renewal project is the $1.32 million refurbishment of Horsham outdoor pool.

Council’s infrastructure renewal fund will be increased again by a further 1% of the rate revenue, or $0.23 million, to take it to $2.40 million. Of this, $1.84 million will be spent on Council’s roads.

Council rates notices will be issued in mid-August and I’d encourage ratepayers to wait until they receive their individual notices before making assumptions about how much more, or less, they may be charged.

If any ratepayer disagrees with the valuation of their property, they can object to it. There is a formal process for this, but it must be done within two months of the issue date of your rates notice.

We also have a hardship policy and I encourage anyone experiencing financial difficulties or having trouble paying their rates to contact us as soon as possible to discuss their circumstances.

Early in the new financial year, we will review Council’s Rating Strategy, which will guide how rates are calculated and applied over a five year period.

Everyone in the community will have the opportunity to be involved in this process and I urge ratepayers, from all areas to make sure their voices are heard in this process.