Bass Coast,
21
April
2016
|
05:53
Australia/Melbourne

Draft Budget reflects community feedback

Bass Coast Shire Council’s draft 2016-17 Budget will now be placed on public exhibition after being adopted following Council’s decision at last night’s Ordinary Meeting.

In accordance with Council’s Resolution from the March Meeting, the increase in average rates for 2016-17 will be contained to 2.5 per cent, as per the rate cap introduce by the State Government.

The draft Budget still aligns with Council’s Long Term Financial Plan, with a larger percentage of rates redirected from operating costs to both capital works and renewal of infrastructure. Twenty-one per cent of rates income will fund capital works, whilst Council will reach 100 per cent of its renewal target for the second year running.

The $76 million draft Budget proposes a $15.8 million Capital Works Program, including major, minor and renewal projects such as:

  • Bass Valley Children’s Centre

  • Cowes Revitalisation Projects

  • Wonthaggi Netball Courts Upgrade

  • Priority Bike Network – Potters Hill to Back Beach Road San Remo

  • Thompson Reserve Lighting

  • Black Spot Program – Agar Rd from Soldiers Rd to Corinella Rd

  • Black Spot Program – Woodleigh – St Helier Rd

Bass Coast Mayor, Cr Jordan Crugnale, said feedback received from the ‘Impact of Rate Capping’ community engagement process was integral in developing the draft Budget.

“Three of the main areas raised during the consultation were for Council to apply the rate cap, achieve this by operational efficiencies and savings, including staffing costs, and seek alternative revenue streams,” Cr Crugnale said.

“The draft Budget focusses on containing operational spending and ensuring there is sufficient investment in capital works and asset renewal.”

The draft Budget also contains overall operating and employee costs, with no increase from the 2015-16 Budget at a saving of $1.9 million.

Council’s service review program will continue, with reviews of Cemetery Management; Building Approvals; Valuations; Local Laws, Emergency Management and Fire Prevention; Visitor Services; and Environmental Health Services already completed. Current and upcoming reviews include Caravan Parks; Recreation Services; Waste Management; Fleet Management; and Funding to other Organisations.

Council’s CEO, Paul Buckley PSM, said the efficiencies are part of Council’s commitment to a culture of continuous improvement and review of processes and practices to ensure services are efficient, relevant and meet the needs of our community.

“Operational savings from service reviews have found ongoing efficiencies which, to-date, come to the value of over $3 million and includes the reduction of 20 full time equivalent staff over the last two years,” Mr Buckley said.

“The ongoing program of service reviews has also identified $1million in future savings and efficiencies for 2016/17, and all of these savings and reductions of operational costs are reflected in the draft Budget.”

In response to community feedback, Council will also develop a Revenue Strategy in the 2016-17 year to consider possible alternative revenue generating opportunities for following years.

Budget consultation

Council will be holding question and answer sessions for interested community members to come and learn more about the draft budget, as well as help them prepare their submissions to Council.

Sessions will be held on:

  • Thursday, 5 May from 6.30pm to 7.30pm via Council’s Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/BassCoastShire.

  • Monday, 9 May from 3.00pm to 4.00pm and 6.00pm to 7.00pm at the Cowes Heritage Centre, 89 Thompson Avenue, Cowes

  • Tuesday, 10 May from 3.00pm to 4.00pm and 6.00pm to 7.00pm at the Old Post Office, Watt Street, Wonthaggi

Community members can view the budget material both online and in hard copy, and are encouraged to let Council know their thoughts.

Copies of the draft 2016-17 Budget will be available from www.basscoast.vic.gov.au/budget from Tuesday, 26 April at:

  • Bass Coast Civic Centre, 76 McBride Ave, Wonthaggi

  • Cowes Customer Service Centre, 91-97 Thompson Ave

  • Inverloch Community Hub, 16 A’Beckett St

  • Grantville Transaction Centre, 1504-1510 Bass Hwy

  • Libraries across the Shire, including the mobile library

Under the provisions of Section 223 of the Local Government Act 1989, any person may make a written submission on any proposal contained in the Budget.

Any person lodging a submission may request to be heard in person in support of their submission. Submissions may be made available to the public.

Submissions must be received by 5.00pm on Wednesday, 25 May and be addressed to The Chief Executive Officer, Bass Coast Shire Council, PO Box 118, Wonthaggi VIC 3995.

Submissions will be considered by a committee of Council on Wednesday, 8 June. This Meeting will be open to the public. The Budget will be formally presented to the Wednesday, 22 June Ordinary Meeting for adoption, along with the outcome of any submissions.

For further information about the proposed budget, contact Council on 1300BCOAST (226 278) or (03) 5671 2211

Quarterly Report

Efficiencies and savings made by Council in the third quarter of 2015/16 were also presented at Wednesday night’s meeting.

The efficiencies had been achieved through service reviews, organisation design and continuous improvement.

Almost $400,000 in savings will be achieved through the Visitor Information Centre service review, as well as a reduction in advertising spend, internal resourcing of some bridge inspections and review of mobile telephone accounts.

A reduction of 1.2 full time equivalent staff members was also made.

“Management and officers continue to look for opportunities to review the way we provide services to ensure that they remain relevant and are as efficient as possible,” Mr Buckley said.

“Savings identified within the 2015/16 financial year will allow greater investment in Capital Works or a reduction in any need for rate increases beyond the rate cap in future years.”

Savings achieved by Council during the 2015/16 financial year so far total just over $1 million, with one quarter to go.

Fees and Charges for 2016/17

Council also adopted the Services Fees and Charges document and schedule for the 2016/17 financial year at the April Ordinary Meeting.

The fees and charges have generally been adjusted by 3 per cent, with some fees indexed by a higher amount due to determinations by Council to discourage particular activities.