Wimmera Mail-Times Mayoral Matters, May 16

IT’S been an exciting time in Northern Grampians Shire, with two of our most iconic events being major successes. The Stawell Gift was a little while ago now, but the annual legacy lasts well into the year.

Thousands of locals and visitors attend this event, and of course, this has a positive impact on our retailers.

More recently was the Grape Escape held in Halls Gap. Record crowds, superb weather, workshops, demonstrations. a stage devoted to music and – importantly – an opportunity for our local primary providers to showcase their wares to an appreciative audience.

This was our 27th year, and one of the best so far.

As always, the Anzac ceremonies held in Stawell and St Arnaud were a poignant recognition of the many men and women in our nation and communities who served us in war, often at great sacrifice to themselves.

It is gratifying to see the crowds who attend our Anzac Day ceremonies.

I remember a time when it seemed that the events would die out.

Young people were not interested in carrying the tradition on.

In 2018, that cannot be further from the truth.

Speaking of our young people, we were delighted to see our young men and women making their debut in Stawell and in St Arnaud.

This is a fine tradition and there were many mums and dads there swelling with pride to see how their children have grown.

Both Stawell and St Arnaud continue to benefit from retail consultants, The Retail Doctor Group who has met with retailers and will provide expertise to help them improve their business performance.

On Monday, the council released its draft budget. The most important part of this process is the time spent consulting the community on a range of budget issues, including infrastructure needs and other critical concerns.

This year, when we undertook our annual reevaluation of council properties, we knew that we would need to make some changes.  

There has been a significant increase in the price of agricultural land, which means that agricultural rates will rise.

This is beyond our control, but we will continue our ongoing conversation with other organisations to see if we can address this in the future.

Tony Driscoll is mayor of Northern Grampians Shire Council.