Last Tuesday night, May 19, at the their first virtual meeting, the Council adopted the 2020/21 budget for public exhibition. Members of the Community have a month to comment.

The Mayor Cr Licia Kokocinski made it clear that Council is “still facing many financial unknowns, so this is very much a baseline budget and may be subject to change before it is adopted in July. If significant changes are required to our budget, including financial assistance and how we respond to COVID-19, we will consider that as part of the next stage of our budget adoption process and communicate these changes to our community.”

In the budget released for discussion, Hepburn Shire Council proposes to generate $35 m in income and spend $33 million next financial year – a surplus of $1.6 million. Income from general rates grows by 2.7 per cent and overall income from rates and charges is projected to grow by 4.5 per cent to $22 million. The biggest anticipated increases are for service rates and charges – 19% per cent.

Grant income is projected to fall slightly to 26 per cent of the total income. The Council holds net assets of $278 million on behalf of the community.

A number of  priorities and projects are listed. The Council proposes to spend $12.1 million on buildings, plant and infrastructure, including roads, bridges, recreational and community facilities and parks and open space.

Funding of $350,000 is projected for the planning activities, including the planning scheme review and the Shire wide Aquatic Strategy.

The budget also provides for the delivery of more than 100 services, including home care for older people, urban planning, environmental initiatives, parks and gardens, early years, libraries and leisure facilities.

Community members are encouraged to get involved in the budget process by providing input and feedback on priorities. Details on how to make a submission can be found here. Submissions are due by 5 pm on Thursday 25 June this year.