Horsham Rural City Council 2017/18 draft budget contains $48 million spending and $18.28m capital works

Horsham Rural City Councillors Pam Clarke, Josh Koenig, Mark Radford, John Robinson, David Grimble and Alethea Sedgman. Les Power is absent.
Horsham Rural City Councillors Pam Clarke, Josh Koenig, Mark Radford, John Robinson, David Grimble and Alethea Sedgman. Les Power is absent.

HORSHAM Rural City councillors have been asked to consider a 2017-18 draft budget with a two per cent rates rise and $48 million in spending, including $18.28m for capital works.

The rates rise is the largest allowed under the state government’s cap without applying for an exemption.

Councillors voted at the last meeting to forgo an extra one per cent rates rise and use savings to fund infrastructure renewal. 

They were due to discuss the draft budget at a meeting on Tuesday night. 

The document forecasts a rates revenue of $22.8m, representing 44.4 per cent of total revenue.

The overall budget’s size would increase by more than $1.1 million compared with 2016-17 under the draft.

Employee costs would increase by $281,000 to $17.19m, representing the second biggest expense. 

The council’s corporate services director Graeme Harrison said the draft budget would maintain service delivery, continue goals to become more efficient and effective, while still investing in new and renewal of ageing infrastructure.

“Council has a range of both internal and external cost pressures to contend with and still recognises the need to play an important role as the regional city for the western area of the state, with the provision of quality services to more than just our own residents,” he said.

The proposed capital works budget includes a $2.15m contribution to the Kalkee Road Children’s and Community Hub development. About $2m would go to the Wimmera Intermodal Freight Terminal for roadworks, power and water supply and drainage if future grants applications are successful. Plant and equipment replacements will take up more than $1.6m while $880,000 will be set aside for Stage 1 of the Livestock Exchange roofing of the selling area and $400,000 for electronic livestock tags if further grants are received.

Paving and footpath works on Pynsent Street, Roberts Avenue and Wilson Street will have $500,000 set aside pending further grants.

Change rooms at Laharum’s Cameron Oval Reserve will receive $650,000 while the next stage of design for the Indoor Community Centre and Sports Stadium would receive $200,000 under the draft budget.

Some of the larger single items include $40,000 for the development of a Youth Strategy; $40,000 for an improved database in environmental health and $20,000 for Firebrace Street heritage shop front incentive scheme.