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A balanced budget and a four-year vision

News Article Date: 
Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Building a Cosmopolitan City by the Sea is the vision driving Warrnambool City Council’s draft 2017-2018 Budget and draft Council Plan 2017-2021.

Both draft documents, required under the Local Government Act, are now out for public comment.

Warrnambool Mayor Cr Kylie Gaston said Council’s vision for Warrnambool – A Cosmopolitan City by the Sea – was supported by a theme of Growing Pride and Confidence in our City.

“Councillors have worked together well to develop the foundations for the new Council Plan,” Cr Gaston said.
 
“Councillors took part in a number of planning sessions earlier this year to develop the foundation for the Council Plan, which is the strategic document that guides Council actions over the next four years.

“In arriving at the vision we talked about who we are as a community and city and what we could build on.

“We also spoke about wanting to be a more open, welcoming, inclusive and diverse city and being cosmopolitan encapsulates those attributes.

“And we already are part of a city and region worth celebrating and that is why we included the theme of Growing Pride and Confidence in our City.

Supporting the vision and theme are five key objectives.

They are for Council to:
•    Sustain and enhance the natural environment;
•    Foster healthy city that is socially and culturally rich;
•    Maintain and improve the physical fabric of the city;
•    Develop a modern economy with diverse and sustainable employment; and,
•    Practice good governance through openness and accountability.

“Council will also continue with its strong advocacy program,” Cr Gaston said.

“Over the next four years we are looking at winning support from other levels of government for projects including the development of Reid Oval, for building tourism, for improved rail services and a safer Princes Highway West.” 

The $85 million budget aims to provide ongoing delivery of the wide range of services to the Warrnambool community and includes a capital works investment comprising key components of:

•    Roads, $5.9 million;
•    Footpaths and cycleways, $3.9 million;
•    Drainage, $1.5 million;
•    Buildings, $1.6 million;

This funding will include playground renewal ($135,000), bridge renewal ($198,000) new footpaths ($438,000) and public toilet upgrades ($362,000).  

The draft budget includes a rate increase in line with the Victorian Government cap of 2 per cent.

This means that of the total $85 million budget, $35.5 million is funded through general rates and charges with the remainder of the budget sourced through external grants and recurrent funding. 

“The draft budget aims to provide value for ratepayers and endeavours to cater for all Warrnambool residents,” Council Chief Executive Officer Bruce Anson said.

“Council provides a wide range of services from waste management to parks and gardens, aged care services and services for the young including kindergartens and immunisations.

“And of course we will embark on the next stage of the $15 million City Centre Renewal which will include Liebig Street from Timor to Koroit streets and Koroit Street from Liebig to Kepler streets.

“Council has also proposed environmental initiatives including the trial of a food organics and green waste collection to divert material from landfill.”

Council will continue to invest income from parking management into the city centre renewal including improved and expanded car parking options.

“It is becoming increasingly difficult to balance the budget and meet community expectations around funding for longer term projects,” Mr Anson said.

“However for this coming year we will be able to maintain existing service levels.”

Over recent years Federal and State governments have shifted a number of costs to local government in areas including home support, library and maternal and child health services. 

“It provides local government with considerable challenges and at the same time a limited ability to raise revenue to cover these costs,” Mr Anson said.

“It is worth noting that for every $100 paid in taxes by Victorian residents, rates comprise about $3.50, with the remaining $96.50 going to Federal and State governments.

“Council also has to contend with rising energy prices – both gas and electricity – which are having an increasing financial impact.”

Visit www.yoursaywarrnambool.com.au to view the draft 2017-2021 Council Plan and to submit your feedback.

Visit www.warrnambool.vic.gov.au/budget to view the draft 2017-2018 Budget. Written submissions regarding the Budget can be mailed to the Chief Executive, Warrnambool City Council, 25 Liebig Street Warrnambool 3280.

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