HORSHAM Rural City Council held its April meeting on Tuesday night.
Councillors David Grimble, Alethea Gulvin, Les Power, Mark Radford and John Robinson were in attendance, while Crs Pam Clarke and Josh Koenig were absent.
If you were unable to attend, here are some of the key agenda items that were discussed.
Draft 2019-20 Budget
THE council discussed its $50 million draft 2019-20 Budget, which will be released to the community for consultation before its adopted.
The council is expected to set its rates cap increase at 2.25 per cent, which is 0.25 per cent below the 2.5 per cent state government imposed rate cap.
Rates were a contentious issue last year when the council's rates rose to the capped increase of 2.25 per cent in 2018-19. However, a breakdown of the rates meant residential rates decreased by 0.6 per cent, while farm rates increased by 11.8 per cent.
The Budget will include rate expenditure on renewal works worth $2.64 million.
Cr Robinson stressed the importance of councillors taking time to examine the draft Budget and listen to community feedback.
The motion to approve the draft Budget and place it on display was carried all in favour.
Community members will be able to view the document at the council's offices and on its website.
Rating Strategy and Policy
AT its March meeting, the council passed a motion to adopt its rating policy and strategy with amendments.
The amendments were:
- To acknowledge the impact of a broken rating system on farming properties
- Reduce the municipal charge from $287 to $280 rather than $200 as put out in the initial draft documents
- Change the valuation variance trigger point for review of differentials from 5 per cent to 3.5 per cent
- The amended rating policy and strategy for 2019-23 was released to the community for consultation. The council received 11 submissions. The council is set to adopt these changes at its April meeting.
As part of the its rating strategy and policy, the council decided to lower the farm rate differential from 80 per cent to 67 per cent of the general rate to help ease the rate burden carried by the farming sector.
At Tuesday night's meeting, the council passed a motion to include the amendment in its rating policy and strategy.
Cr Grimble said the council had come up with a "fair, reasonable and equitable" solution.
Cr Power said he opposed the motion, claiming the council had "taken out pieces of the rates committee's report". He argued that the municipal rate should be lowered to $200.
"It's disapointing that we are supporting some parts of the community, but not those who are doing it really tough," he said.
The motion was carried with all councillors except Cr Power in support.
Wimmera River pedal boats Pick My Project
In October, the state government announced that a proposal to bring pedal boats to the Wimmera River had been granted $60,000 through Pick My Project.
The Pick My Project application was filed by Mark Radford, without any affiliation with Horsham Rural City Council.
A motion was discussed at the council's meeting which recommended council:
- Supported a three-year trial of the pedal boats on the Wimmera River and invite expressions of interest from local not-for-profit groups to operate the program.
- Subject to receipt of satisfactory expressions of interest, endorse the signing of the Pedal Boat Funding Agreement with the Victorian State Government.
- Endorsed the Draft Operational Budget, Operator Guidelines and User Agreement.
Cr Radford left the meeting while the motion was discussed, with Cr Grimble chairing in his place.
Cr Robinson said he could not support the motion due to the transparency issues around Cr Radford's involvement. He also said the council was only made aware of its involvement in the project on April 1.
"Principles of good governance have been thrown out the window. It hasn't been a transparent process," Cr Robinson said.
Cr Grimble agreed with Cr Robinson, however said he would support the motion because he "didn't want to knock back state government funding".
The motion was carried with three in favour, with Crs Grimble, Gulvin and Power voting in the affirmative. Cr Robinson opposed the motion.
Other motions discussed:
Community grants and donations
The council allocate $373,940 in its 2019-20 Budget for grants and donations to community groups.
Groups and projects to receive donations include the Taylor Lake Community Hall, Natimuk and District Field and Game, Brimpaen Reserve Committee of Management, Laharum Hall, Horsham East Rotary Club, Salvation Army and Natimuk Men's Shed.
Telecommunications facility on Dimboola Road
Councillors passed a secondary motion proposed by Cr Robinson to defer making a decision on an application for a telecommunications facility at the Dimboola Road site.
Cr Robinson argued that the council needed formal, written statement from the Country Authority regarding whether the site posed a fire risk.
Cr Robinson said there were many other suitable locations for the facility. He also said the current suggested location could affect future expansion of the Horsham Aerodrome.
See council's April 2019 meeting agenda below
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