Budget up for comment


MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire is inviting comments on its $252 million budget for 2021/22.

A state government-imposed rate cap of 1.5% has encouraged the shire to define a four-year rating and revenue “envelope” within which it can “deliver on the council plan, programs and services”.

The proposed budget agreed to at council’s Tuesday 30 March meeting will be open for written submissions until Tuesday 29 April.

Anyone who wants to speak in support of their submission can do so at council’s 12 May meeting.

Submissions may be published on the shire’s website before the meeting, although the shire has cautioned that “offensive, defamatory or third-party personal information will not be published”.

The proposed budget shows council intends to apply a general rate of 0.16897 (SCIV), an increase of 1.01%.

Vacant residential properties will be hardest hit, with a 17.84% rate increase (generating $5.2m in income, or an extra 11.4%), while all other types of properties will be tied to the 1.01% increase.

Of the shire’s $252 million ($241m in previous year) income, almost $198m will come from rates and charges.

The largest outgoings are materials, services and contracts ($120m) and wages and salaries ($83.4m) for the shire’s 687 full time and part time employees. A further $14m is included in the budget for “other employee related expenditure”.

The waste service charge goes up by $16 to $338.

The proposed budget being put out for public comment was adopted after the rejection of two suggested alternatives.

In the first, Crs Steve Holland and Anthony Marsh failed to persuade any of their colleagues to give all ratepayers in the “general land” class a 1.5 per cent “COVID-19 rebate”.

The pair also wanted to quadruple the amount of money being spent on designs and approvals for capital works from $200,000 to $800,000.

They said savings could be made by either deleting or cutting amounts for reducing the effects of climate change; a master plan for The Briars; redeveloping the Sorrento museum; and the COVID-19 recovery effort.

Their motion was lost when it was pointed out that owners of multi-million dollar properties would receive a $500 rate cut as opposed to only $12.50 to those at the other end of the property scale. The average rebate across the shire was $23.

The second alternative was proposed by Cr David Gill but failed to even get a seconder.

Among the changes suggested by Cr Gill was $360,000 to reinstate the mobile library service, $12,000 to count the peninsula’s koalas, $30,000 to desex cats and $40,000 for freeway billboards to advertise “advocacy issues”.

He said money could be saved by not contributing $40,000 for school chaplains, removing $1.5 million allocated for boat ramps and increasing beach box licence fees.

After the meeting Cr Gill was scathing about the budget process but hopes this can be fixed in the future (“Changes to budget process ‘can’t come soon enough’”, The News 6/4/2021).

The proposed $37.6m capital works budget includes $4m for “safer local roads”; $2.4m renewing community facilities; $1.9m footpath renewal; $1.6m Flinders Civic Hall redevelopment; $1.6m Narambi Reserve junior oval; and $1.1m to rehabilitate the oval at Balnarring Recreative Reserve.

The $8.25m for priority projects includes $700,000 organic food collection; $252,000 to be carbon neutral; $225,000 open space strategy; a $200,000 arts and culture p; and $175,000 for a coastal strategy.

More than $10m is included in the capital works and priority projects budgets for COVID-19 “recovery actions”.

To have your say and view the proposed 2021–22 budget and draft revenue and rating plan visit mornpen.vic.gov.au/budget

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 6 April 2021


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