Ararat ratepayers encouraged to read draft budget and make submission

Cr Gwenda Allgood.

Cr Gwenda Allgood.

ARARAT - Ararat Rural City Councillor Gwenda Allgood has urged ratepayers to read the 2014/2015 draft budget and contact council with their thoughts and concerns.

Council agreed to the five per cent rate rise in adopting the draft budget on Tuesday.

Cr Allgood said councillors have travelled around the municipality during the preparation of the budget and looked at many services and infrastructure.

During their travels, Cr Allgood said councillors looked at the rural roads and bridges that this year it is planning works for in the budget.

"The safety of these is vital not only to families, farmers and locals but school buses and tourists," she said.

Cr Allgood said council had also encouraged locals to make their requests for this year.

"Small municipalities have been consulted and have requested these ideas from us over the next 12 months, money permitting," she said.

"Councillors attend a great number of community groups meetings and see what these groups need and what their expectations are for the next 12 months for further input during budget sessions."

Some of the issues raised by rural communities included toilets and streetscape improvements for Willaura, repairs or replacement of the Pomonal Hall, while residents of Lake Bolac raise the issue of a truck stop in the town.

"Elmhurst also is concerned about attracting tourists into the town, Warrak Hall is in desperate need of painting and has also requested a tourist sign board at the crossroads, Moyston is keen to look in the future to having sewerage so the main street can be revived, Buangor are conscious of the bypass that will happen soon and want to talk about this and Wickliffe wants a walking track along the river," she said.

"I voted to refurbish the outdoor pool and this will cost us, and Alexandra Oval upgrade is once again a vital asset to our community.

"We have in council's budget costs for Home and Community Care for our elderly, Meals on Wheels, libraries, sporting grounds, swimming pools, footpaths, parks and gardens, art galleries, senior citizens' centres, public halls all throughout our community, bowls, netball courts, festivals, football ovals, the list goes on and on and we need to balance all this while planning the budget.

"We have ageing infrastructure, we realise this and we do our very best to maintain this though out our municipality every year."

Cr Allgood said Council has set aside $90,000 to help local community groups this year.

"I would love to have an idea of the council contribution and the work done by volunteers and how much this adds up to every year. It would have to be in the hundreds of thousands without a doubt," she said.

"Without these groups of volunteers we would be looking at some extraordinary costs every year and not able to afford the upkeep.

"As a Council we need to provide and care for every building throughout the Ararat Rural City municipality. Usually without a great deal of help from State or Federal Governments."

Cr Allgood said the rate increase of five per cent is because across the municipality as a Council it has to keep planning for the future.

"Not like the Kennett years, when rates were capped with the devastating consequences we are still paying for," she said.

"The MAV (Municipal Association of Victoria) reports and I quote 'Ratepayers deserve prudent and responsible spending by all levels of Government. We urge communities to get involved in the annual council budget process this year. Don't sit idly by, have your say'.

"This budget tonight is put to our locals ... we want to hear your opinions now so please get a copy and let us hear if you think we have it right by having a five per cent rate increase."

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