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Council reflects on year of challenge in annual report

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MITCHELL Shire councillors believe the region’s future is bright despite a tumultuous 12 months outlined in council’s 2021-22 annual report, released last month.

Mayor Bill Chisholm said the past financial year was ‘very different to the one [council was] hoping for’ when it adopted its budget in 2021.

Among the setbacks were the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic and heavy storms that rocked the region in June last year.

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The report showed an adjusted underlying deficit of $1.5 million, slightly greater than initially projected.

The report listed increased material and service costs, landfill rehabilitation costs, natural disaster and COVID-19 recovery measures and a net loss of infrastructure, plant and equipment as contributors to the deficit.

The report said achieving an underlying surplus was ‘a critical focus’.

Cr Chisholm said despite the challenges of the past financial year, council’s ability to engage with residents on projects such as the Mitchell 2050 Community Vision helped set a roadmap for the shire’s future.

“Our tireless consultation efforts resulted in more than 1500 responses with more than 11,000 pieces of unique information collected to help develop the vision,” he said.

Cr Chisholm also listed council’s battle to prevent a proposed quarry south of Wallan as a key focus of the past 12 months.

“One of the biggest challenges, other than COVID, that we have faced in this reporting period is the proposed Wallan/Beveridge quarry at 175 Northern Highway,” he said.

“We’ve taken a number of actions to help stop the quarry and to support the community in the fight.”

Cr Chisholm also commended council staff for their advocacy during leading up to May’s federal election, which helped to secure pledges for infrastructure projects such as the Seymour Community Wellbeing Hub, a Camerons Lane Hume Freeway interchange at Beveridge and detailed planning for the Greenhill Recreation Precinct.

Cr Chisholm said council advocated for projects across the municipality, including female-friendly facilities, a tennis/netball pavilion, and new courts and lighting at Broadford’s Harley Hammond Reserve; Kilmore’s Sydney Street rejuvenation project, and a new community facility and courts at JJ Clancy Reserve; pine plantation fire safety works in Pyalong; work on a new Seymour resource recovery centre and a youth activity space at Chittick Park; and the opening of the Wallan Community Services Hub, as well as planning and funding for Wallan’s Greenhill sports precinct.

Cr Chisholm also acknowledged the contributions of former councillors Christine Banks, who resigned from her position for health reasons in February and was replaced by Cr David Lowe.

“There is no question that the year has thrown a few unexpected curve balls. Everyone has pulled together to help each other out,” Cr Chisholm said.

“Despite the lockdowns, we were able to deliver many key projects … including new sport and recreation facilities, playgrounds, community buildings, kindergartens and road projects.

“We’re very proud of the work that’s been achieved as we support our communities right across the shire and we’re looking forward to a bigger and better 2022-23.”

Cr Rhonda Sanderson encouraged Mitchell Shire residents to read the annual report online or by viewing a copy at council library and customer service centres.

“It’s not a document that most people would have a look at … they might have a quick flick through, but if people want to know what council does, this is quite a good document,” she said.

“We’ve got over 100 services that council provides and it goes into quite a bit of detail about specific projects.

“When you put it all together in a 12-month collection of activities, it’s quite exciting to see the number of projects that have managed to be implemented.”

People can view the report online by visiting www.mitchellshire.vic.gov.au/about-council/council-documents/annual-report.

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