Northern Grampians rates to rise by five per cent to support $33m spending



RATES for Northern Grampians residents are set to rise by five per cent to support spending worth $33 million spending on projects and services in the shire.

On Monday night, councillors approved the 2014-15 draft budget, which has been released for public consultation.

Northern Grampians Mayor Kevin Erwin said the rate rise was not taken lightly by council.

"Putting together the annual budget is always a challenge," he said. 

"Rates are only one element of council's income and it's our job to find a balance between what the community wants and what it can afford." 

He said without rate rises the delivery of services and infrastructure in the shire would diminish.

"The reality is that reducing rates and fees would lead to diminished services or lower standards, but council has tried to minimise the pressure on ratepayers by taking a serious look at how we deliver services and how we can improve efficiency," he said.

Through the budget, $9.7 million will be spent on parks, recreational areas, buildings and drainage works. 

There will be $6.1 million spent on roads and bridges and $4.6 million will go to children's services, aged care, recreation, leisure services and libraries. 

Cr Erwin said there would be money to support new residential development and attract business to the shire.

"With Northern Grampians' unemployment rate at an all-time low and the housing market buoyant, our focus is on supporting job creation and investment," he said. 

Northern Grampians chief executive Justine Linley said council would use the budget to support long-term planning.

"Last year was about reviewing and planning," she said. 

"This year is very much about getting on with work and getting the job done. 

"While it is important to live within your means, it is also important to invest for the future and build an environment where people are happy to live, work and visit."

Mrs Linley encouraged all Northern Grampians residents to read and comment on the draft budget. 

She said copies were available at or from council's customer service centres and visitor information centres.

Public comment is open until June 18.

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