Council adopts budget

Council formally adopted its 2010/2011 budget at last night’s council meeting.

The budget includes a five per cent general rate rise and a $5.7 million capital works program. CEO Ian Nicholls said the rate rise ensured services in the Alpine Shire could be maintained.

“We think we have delivered a responsible budget for the future,” he said.

“If we set the rate rise too low we would not be able to maintain services for our community. If we set it to high it becomes an unfair cost on our ratepayers. Five per cent will allow us to maintain services, while also enabling the delivery of a reasonable quality capital works program. ”

While Council’s rate rise is the equal lowest in north-east Victoria and well below the state average, the budget has again highlighted their reliance on external funding. $3.5 million of the capital works program is expected to be funded from external grants and third party contributions.

“The Alpine Shire is largely made up of crown land which means Council only generates rates from eight per cent of the shire,” Mr Nicholls said.

“We have one of the lowest percentages of rateable land in Victoria. This means we rely on external grants to maintain our level of services and deliver new initiatives.”

Mr Nicholls said Council had to be wary of increasing roles and extra responsibilities being thrust on them. A recommendation out of the Whelan Report that was released last week was for the State Government to increase funding for small councils. Mr Nicholls added that the budget prepared Council for the future.

“We allowed for an extra fire prevention officer position in the budget due to expected findings to come out of the Royal Commission on the Black Saturday bushfires,” he said.

“Over the next 12 months we will review our rating strategy further. In particular we will review the level of farm rates and special rates to ensure we have an equitable rating structure.”

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