INVESTMENT in roads, traffic management around schools and funding sporting and leisure facilities are high priorities in the City of Whittlesea’s draft budget and council plan.
Whittlesea Council released the draft budget for community feedback at a special council meeting last week revealing how the $272.1 million will be spent.
Mayor Lawrie Cox said setting the budget was always a challenge.
“We do have limited financial capacity and we are trying to achieve as much as we can for our residents while being conscious of the rising cost of living.
“It’s always a balancing act where we can’t do everything so we have to prioritise,” he said.
Council will keep to the rate cap with a 2.5 per cent increase applied to the total amount of rates collected.
Councillors agreed on a proposed $12.2 million to provide services, programs and activities to enable older people to live independently in their homes, $9.07 million for provision of family and children services, $4.89 million to regional libraries, $3.45 million for traffic management services, $5.74 million for public health services and $2.28 million to local youth services.
Specific works that council proposed to fund were the Findon Road extension, signalisation of Ferres Boulevard and Findon Road, Mill Park Leisure development, Mernda Recreation Leisure Centre and a pavilion at Painted Hills Reserve.
The draft budget also made room for a Norris Bank Reserve masterplan, construction of Edgars Creek Community Activity Centre, upgrading local playgrounds and developing an ‘All Abilities Play Space’ in Mill Park.
A three per cent increase in residential charges was announced and an extra fee of $14.50 per household was announced to help recover costs paid by council to process recyclable materials.
Cr Cox said the fee was due to industry changes which mean council not only loses $900,000 in revenue from contractor purchasing of recyclable materials, but also incurs additional costs of $1.1 million per annum for processing/disposal of recyclable items. The proposed $14.50 increase is to recover the additional $1.1 million in costs only.
“We held any rises for the first year and are not going to pass the full cost of this service on to our residents but we do need to increase charges slightly this year to offset some of this,” he said.
“But we have managed to keep the waste charge increase significantly lower than most other Victorian councils, who are facing the same challenges.
”Residents are invited to make submissions on the proposed budget, draft council plan update and council action plan.
The submission form and copies of these documents are available online at whittlesea.vic.gov.au, at the council offices, 25 Ferres Boulevard, South Morang or at local libraries.