MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire councillors have adopted a 1.75 per cent rate increase as part of their $273 million 2022/23 budget.
The rate hike is the maximum allowed by the state government and is 0.25 per cent higher than last year.
CEO John Baker said the government’s rate cap “in terms of current economic trends, it’s not a great outcome”.
“With this year’s increase being less than half of the consumer price index (CPI) rise of 5.1 per cent for the March quarter, it means our revenue has shrunk in real terms,” he stated in his introduction to the “challenging budget”.
“This presents a significant challenge in delivering essential community services, which generally increase at CPI or higher.”
Individual property rates will be charged at 1 January 2022 valuations which saw a capital improved value (CIV) of residential properties across the shire rise by an average of 33.7 per cent.
The highest increases were for residential properties on the southern end of Port Phillip and Western Port, including Point Leo, Rye, Merricks Beach, Tootgarook, Blairgowrie and Balnarring Beach.
The lowest growth in values were in Tuerong, Hastings, Somerville and Mornington.
Both Baker and the mayor Cr Anthony Marsh stressed the “success” of the “new ground” that had been broken to involve the public in determining the budget outcome.
Marsh said the budget aimed to continue delivering the 2021/25 council plan around the themes of a healthy natural environment and well-planned townships (budgeted net cost of $67.6m); a robust, innovative and diverse economy ($4.7m); and, a flourishing, healthy and connected community ($37.7m).
The capital works budget has been more than halved, dropping from $96.2m in 2021/22 to $47.6m in the coming year, including government grants.
Spending on capital works has taken a big hit, with roads dropping from $24m to $8m; recreation and leisure facilities going from $14m to $3.6m in the coming year; parks, open space and streetscapes $2.9m from $9.5m; marine structures drop from last year’s $2.6m to $385,000.
While income from rates and charges has risen by $6.4m to $206.482m from the previous 2021/22 budget, grants and subsidies will drop from $14m to $8.6m. Employee costs, the second biggest expense for 2022/23, are $79.7m, nearly $10m less than in the previous year.
Despite two pre-budget training sessions, a halt was called during the public (and online) budget deliberations on Tuesday 7 June so councillors could meet in camera to better understand how to proceed with the debate and amendments.
The training sessions followed the cancellation of the scheduled 31 May budget meeting (“Differences over delays to budget meeting” The News 7/6/22).
The adopted 2022/23 budget is at mornpen.vic.gov.au/budget