Macedon Ranges Shire Council is planning an array of community projects as part of a $40.17 million capital works program in its 2022-23 budget.

Residents have the opportunity to provide feedback on the draft budget following its endorsement for public display at council’s ordinary meeting on April 27.

Council’s capital works program of $40.17 million represents 36 per cent of council’s forecasted total revenue.

Through nine workshops, councillors considered input on the capital works program to assist in funding key inclusions.

The projects include: continuing work at the Macedon Ranges Sports Precinct; planning the Hanging Rock to Daylesford shared trail with Hepburn Shire Council and the State Government; the Woodend Racecourse Reserve master plan; finalising the preparation of a new open space strategy; continuation of Gisborne Futures Planning Scheme Amendment; and continuing the Romsey Structure Plan and planning scheme amendment.

Macedon Ranges Shire Council Mayor Jennifer Anderson said the projects had been community-driven requests or were prioritised by council.

“The Macedon Ranges Sports Precinct and shared trails project are long-standing major projects, which will improve community health and well-being as well as bringing economic benefits to the shire,” she said.

“These projects have been developed over a number of years in response to community feedback, advocacy and demand, and for which we have been successful in leveraging funding contributions from various contributors including the state and federal governments.

“The Woodend Racecourse Reserve master plan has been a community-driven request for some time, and as we continue to work through funding arrangements for various master plans on sites throughout the shire, is now deemed a priority.

“Romsey and Gisborne are yet to have defined town boundaries determined following our declaration as an area of distinction and landscapes, and the gazetting of our statement of planning policy from the Victorian Government for the entire shire.

“Once these boundaries are determined, it will provide certainty for landholders and the community. This work will be guided by the pillars of our community vision and will involve a great deal of ongoing community consultation.”

Cr Anderson said each year it became more complex to form council’s budget as the population grew and residents’ expectations changed.

“Every year the budget process becomes more complex. With growing populations to service, fewer ongoing guaranteed revenue streams available and increased expectations of the community and state and federal governments … it is always difficult to determine what will be funded each year and what may need to wait for a future year or future funding opportunities,” she said.

Council began receiving residents’ budget submissions in late 2021.

Council received and considered more than 40 proposals to develop the budget, which included an equestrian facilities plan, funding for an additional neighbourhood house and a Woodend racecourse reserve master plan.

The draft budget also aligned council’s rates with the state-wide rate cap of 1.75 per cent.

Last year the rate increase was 1.5 per cent and in 2020 it was two per cent.

“Since this rate capping commenced, Macedon Ranges Shire Council has always chosen to remain within the cap and not apply for an exemption to go above it,” Cr Anderson said.

“This does mean we are limited with what we can do each year, given the many rising costs of employing staff, supply of materials, reduction in external grants,  et cetera, along with needing to serve a growing population.”

The final budget is expected to be presented to council for adoption at its meeting on June 22.

People can provide feedback on the draft budget before June 9 by emailing mrsc@mrsc.vic.gov.au or addressed to corporate director Adele Drago-Stevens, PO Box 151, Kyneton Victoria, 3444.

Further information about making a submission or to view the draft budget can be found at mrsc.vic.gov.au/haveyoursay or by contacting 5422 0333.

People wanting to present in support of their submission at a special council meeting on June 9 should contact Kaitlin Evans by emailing kevans@mrsc.vic.gov.au.

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