Dear Editor,

I write, in a personal capacity, to congratulate The Wombat Post and thank you for your thought-provoking, balanced and incisive article “Where to from here for Hepburn Shire?” published 30th September 2022.

The recognition that Hepburn Shire Council as an organisation bears the weight of numerous underlying problems is a timely and welcome injection of some intelligent commentary.

The cumulative impact of rate capping, cost shifting, the lack of economies of scale and geographical realities make the delivery of services for which Council is responsible increasingly difficult and less than satisfactory in the community’s eyes. The post-COVID population rush into regional Victoria puts further strain on Council’s resources. Addressing the underlying problems will require action from the State Government and appropriate strategies by Council. Clear, informative communication and consultation will be key, as it could be argued that in its absence the disparity between community expectations and Council’s financial and human capacity will only linger.

The audited financial statements for the 2021/2022 year, adopted at Council’s September meeting and available on its website, disclose that a deficit of $5.6m was incurred. The deficit in the previous year was $2.3m. To its credit Council invested heavily in storm recovery works, well in excess of the relief funding it received, in support of our community. Storm recovery aside, the underlying deficit was still $3.3m and cashflows remain very tight.

I can only agree that generating solutions will require some thoughtful insight and decisive action if Council is to be financially sustainable and capable of delivering the services our community needs.

Cr. Brian Hood
Coliban Ward.