Jen Bray

Council has just approved a $59 million Budget for the 23-24 financial year and it’s boring.

If it’s any consolation to rate payers, boring budgets are definitely flavour of the month, with state and federal governments as well as many local councils presenting no-frills, back-to-basics, business-as-usual, trim-the-fat budgets to cope with the current economic crunch.

Interest rate rises, cost of living increases, escalating building construction costs and natural disasters like storms and floods have put a huge amount of pressure on household and government finances alike. We’re all tightening our belts and focusing on the must-haves not the nice-to-haves.

So it was interesting to see that one of the most important must-haves did not get attention in this council’s budget –  a safe roof over one’s head. Housing is a basic human right and a must-have for everyone in our Shire.

Hepburn Shire has just completed a draft Affordable Housing Strategy and is seeking community feedback before it is presented to council for approval in coming months. The draft strategy highlights the desperate need for low-cost housing. It found that rents have increased by 51% in the last 10 years, more than one in three rental households in Hepburn Shire are experiencing Housing Stress where the rent is more than 30% of their income, local businesses and health care organisations are struggling to find workers as they can’t afford to live nearby, and long-term rental properties are scarce. There are around 300 households in our Shire urgently needing housing and many more who are struggling with housing and rental affordability

However, no funding has been allocated in this budget to implement this strategy if it is approved.

At the Special Council Budget meeting on Tuesday, it was suggested that perhaps $60,000 could be found at a later stage to appoint a housing officer to implement the actions in the Affordable Housing Strategy if, and when, it was approved.

With Mt Alexander Shire recently appointing a housing officer and relaxing the need for permits for tiny houses and caravans on properties with existing dwellings, the need for local councils to get involved in this issue is becoming increasingly clear.

The draft Affordable Housing Strategy is open for community feedback until 9 July at

This budget, while perhaps un-spectacular in terms of new innovative projects from our council plan, and the lack of spending on some community priorities, does try to stabilise Council’s financial position and ensure that the regular services and programs continue to be delivered including libraries, community grants, parks and gardens, road maintenance, tourism, reconciliation and events. Council has focused on completing capital works projects and repairing our roads, so badly damaged by floods and wet weather.

As households and governments cop the brunt of this financial storm, perhaps things need to be a bit boring for a while.

See the full budget here:


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Council Adopts 2023/24 Budget in Split Decision

Jen Bray is a Daylesford resident and an elected councillor for Birch Ward.

Councillor Columns are a regular feature in The Wombat Post. We offer this space as an information channel from Council to the community. Councillor Columns are not subject to editorial review by our editorial committee but are published as we receive them from our elected Councillors.