Cr Brian Hood

The coming weeks and months will be dominated by two critically important pieces of work – the Town Structure Plans and Rural Strategy – and the 2024/25 budget and 10-year financial plan.

The process to gather community input in order to finalise the Draft Town Structure Plans and Rural Strategy is well underway. Large attendances at information sessions have demonstrated the importance of this work. I look forward to working with my colleagues and officers as we closely consider this input and prepare long term plans that protect the Shire’s assets and provide a robust framework that sensitively guides and manages the anticipated growth of our communities.

The information sessions are being well-attended, generating valuable input from the community for Planning officers and councillors to consider. There have been over 4300 visits to the Future Hepburn website and over 5200 documents downloaded. This illustrates the importance of these draft plans. I encourage community members to attend the information sessions, to contact Planning staff with questions and concerns and to make a submission before the 12th June. 

At its May meeting Council received and noted the financial reports for the nine months ending 31 March 2024. The reports again highlight the very tight cash environment Council operates in. Councillors also unanimously accepted recommendations from the four independent members of the Audit & Risk Committee related to the work to compile the 2024/25 budget and the revised 10-year financial plan. The recommendations call for a review of Council’s service offering, the consideration of several corrective measures, emphasised the need for transparent consultation with the community and the importance of adopting a revised long-term financial plan by September, all of which is designed to ensure Council’s financial sustainability. A Special Meeting on the 28th May will consider the release of the draft 2024/25 budget for community review. Council aims to adopt the 2024/25 budget by the 30th June.

While the draft 2024/25 budget quantifies the financial challenges facing Council, and highlights the consequent need to not only tighten our belts but to refocus priorities, it doesn’t yet present all of the solutions. Councillors will consider input from the community before finalising the budget. Similarly, the 10-year financial plan calls for a range of corrective actions if Council’s financial sustainability is to be ensured. The long term financial plan will be the subject of community consultation before its adoption in September.

At our May meeting, we appointed seven community members to a Project Advisory Group (PAG) to help steer the project to potentially develop Daylesford Town Hall into a number of community facilities. Bringing a range of skills, experience and community connections PAG members will represent broader community views and relay information to the community as the project advances. An eighth member will be appointed following a targeted program to identify a youth representative. Council also appointed an architectural firm experienced in the redevelopment of iconic heritage buildings. Stage One of the project will explore the feasibility of incorporating the Daylesford Library into the Town Hall building.

Cr Brian Hood is the elected Councillor for Coliban Ward and is currently the Mayor of Hepburn Shire.

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