The mid-year budget review has resulted in cancellation or postponement of a number of operational and capital projects in the Shire.
Mayor, Cr Lesley Hewitt, said that COVID has significantly impacted the organisation financially, like it has impacted businesses and communities. Given the financial impact of COVID-19, pressure of Councils cash position, changing priorities of Council and the increasing number of projects being carried forward, a detailed review of current projects was undertaken.
The mid-year financial report delivered to Council outlined increased costs and reduced income related to COVID:
- additional costs to deliver waste services ($466K);
- rent and fee waivers associated with Council’s COVID-19 relief support package ($219K);
- direct COVID-19 recovery costs ($200K);
- reduced interest income forecasted to be charged on overdue rates and charges ($110K); and
- reduced income on investments due to lower than anticipated interest rates ($100K).
Thirty-one projects with a net cost to Council of $2.79 million were deferred or cancelled. The review included the addition of capital works of $2.9 million which has been funded by an additional $2.1 million of Government funding.
Cancelled capital works projects include the Dalesford Pool Upgrade and Civic Plaza development ($698K), Daylesford Town Hall Community Hub ($312K), Daylesford, Coomora and Glenlyon Walking Trail feasibility study ($48K) and the Daylesford Street Trees and Parklet prototype ($51K). The Agriculture Development Plan has been cancelled saving $22K.
Major operational projects to be postponed include the Arts and Culture Strategy ($40K) and the Flora and Fauna Assessments ($50K). Capital projects postponed include the Daylesford Community Park masterplan ($20K), implementation of the Glenlyon Recreation Reserve masterplan ($80K), Lake Daylesford Amphitheatre works (($24K), Pavilion Café repairs ($98K), Central Springs Master Plan and Rotunda works ($125K) and Wombat Hill Glasshouses ($18K).
“Council wants to deliver projects in a timely way, but we can’t when the list of projects continues to grow, and resources are stretched,” said Mayor, Cr Lesley Hewitt. “We have a responsibility to the community to consider the long-term financial viability of the organisation so that we can deliver on outcomes of the Hepburn Together project,”
Officers and Councillors are working on the development of Council’s Annual Budget 2021-22, the Financial Plan (Long Term Financial Plan) to respond to communities input to the Hepburn Together project. The Hepburn Together Project will drive the development of the vision for the community for the next 10 years, the four-year Council Plan.
A complete list of cancelled and postponed operational and capital works projects is available in the most recent Council Agenda papers (pages 88-89).