MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire Council’s half-year finances had been “sharply impacted” by the effects of the COVID-19 lockdowns forcing it to make $3 million in cuts while facing a predicted $6.4 million loss of revenue in the coming year.
Cr Sam Hearn said councillors had “worked hard to deliver a fair and balanced budget under these difficult circumstances”.
He said council was determined to achieve an economic and social recovery, but warned “it will take a sustained collaborative effort to overcome the hurdles we are facing as a community”.
“Despite these difficulties, we continue to deliver close to the lowest average rates and charges in Victoria while delivering the services efficiently,” Cr Hearn said.
He said there would be no wage increases for shire staff and “no reduction in services for the community.”
Cr Hearn said the council was “committed to economic stimulus projects” through the $50.9m capital works budget. About $96 million in capital works was delivered or contracted in the previous financial year.
“This all helps sustain and boost our economy during COVID-19 and provide much needed local employment, and improved amenity for the community,” he said.
Support was being provided by waiving non-commercial sporting club lease and licence fees for 2020/21; waivers or deferrals to organisations leasing council facilities; relief for those paying footpath trading and licence fees; standardising and reducing bathing box fees; reviewing shire hardship policies and giving rate relief for facing financial difficulties.
Cr Hearn said “significant council resources” would go towards delivering care packages to vulnerable and isolated residents.
The budget recognises properties under Trust For Nature and drops the rural living rate but increases waste collection fees from $285 to $322.
Big ticket items include $33.1 million in waste services; $4.4m to manage bushland and foreshore reserves; $5.7m for roadside vegetation management and arboriculture; $8.4m to beautify and clean towns and $4m for road resealing and rehabilitation works.
About $12.4m will go on roads, pathway, traffic and transport management; $1.2m on school crossings in high risk locations and $1.5m on marketing the peninsula, developing industry and “visitor servicing”.
Yawa Aquatic Centre will receive $11.2m, while $3.1m will go to child and family health and youth services; $5.6m to ageing and disability services, senior citizens’ services, meals on wheels and home-based services; $6.6 million to open spaces maintenance, and $5m for other aquatic and recreational facilities. About $1.3m will help implement the shire’s tennis strategy.
The $4.4m projects program includes a $100,000 study into supplying recycled water to the hinterland, $100,000 for social housing, $400,000 for a climate emergency program and $360,000 for bio-links weed management.