Council’s year in review

MITCHELL Shire Council released its annual report for the 2019-20 financial year last week, outlining a tumultuous 12 months in which it dealt with a global pandemic and lost its chief executive.

Former chief executive David Turnbull died in March following a battle with cancer, after which the role was temporarily filled by advocacy and community services director Mary Agostino before the appointment of Brett Luxford in August.

Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic took effect around the world, with Mitchell Shire becoming regional Victoria’s hardest hit municipality.

The report also detailed council’s response to the pandemic through to June this year.

Highlights of the report include council’s success in advocating for increased state and federal investment in roads and health services, a new environment policy, road upgrades in Seymour, Kilmore and Wallan, and the 16 Days of Activism awareness campaign.

In the report’s mayor’s message, then-Mayor David Lowe – who was not re-elected in November’s council elections – said 2019-20 was a particularly challenging year.

“The challenges have been widespread and manifold with effects of drought, fires, storms and floods,” he said.

“I would like to thank our community for their support as we have adjusted our services and looked at ways we can help our community and our businesses through these difficulties, particularly from the impact of the coronavirus.

“Despite these challenges, 2019-20 has been a year of significant achievements, many of which are highlighted throughout this report.”

Ms Agostino said Mitchell Shire was built on a sense of place and community that allowed the shire to show its resilience in one of its most challenging years.

“Our council led a strong response to the pandemic. A commitment by the organisation to create a robust and agile business continuity plan over the last two years set a strong foundation for council’s response so far,” the former acting chief executive said.

“As the state’s fastest-growing and most diverse shire in terms of geography, we have presented strong cases to state and federal governments for extra support in growing our community.

“This includes making representation in Canberra for much-needed infrastructure resulting in the recent announcement of $50 million for the Wallan freeway interchange ramps.”

The full report is available at www.mitchellshire.vic.gov.au/about-council/council-documents/annual-report