Council adopts 2014/15 budget with 5% rate rise

ARARAT Rural City Council adopted the 2014/2015 Budget at its June meeting, which includes a five per cent rate rise.

Council will raise $14,511,177 through rates, a municipal charge and annual service charges this year.

The municipal charge has been set at $84 per rateable assessment, with service charges including kerbside garbage collection for a 120 litre mobile bin, $274, kerbside garbage collection for a 240 litre mobile bin, $359, kerbside recycling collection for a 240 litre mobile bin, $100.

Councillor has grave reservations about budget

Cr Ian Harris said he had no hesitation in recommending adoption of budget.

"Council worked very, very hard, with the help of staff, to come up with a budget that was as frugal as possible," he said.

"I've said it before and I'll say it again, unless you're involved at this level and you don't understand the impositions that are placed on council from federal government and state government and other outside issues, problems we have with unrateable property in our municipality, it all makes the business of providing the services and looking after our assets very, very difficult.

"I think the budget we've put together this year is very credible, very responsible and it's no accident that we didn't get deluged with lots of people complaining this year."

Cr Fay Hull also endorsed the budget and five per cent rate rise.

In relation to services, Cr Hull said if council was to do everything that the municipality would like it to do and bring assets up to where it would really like them to be council would probably need a 15 per cent rate rise.

"This council has worked very hard to cut costs were possible to bring it down from (a potential) seven per cent to five per cent and I congratulate the staff on hard work they've done to cut according to our cloth.

"It's a best case scenario that we've worked hard to achieve."

A number of councillors spoke against the adoption of the budget, including councillor Glenda McLean (see story on this page), and Gwenda Allgood, while Cr Colin McKenzie said he agreed with many points made by Cr McLean (see story above).

"But we've given it reasonable consultation and the result that we came up with is as good as we could do with the circumstances we face at this time," he said.

"I do however accept many of the points made by Cr McLean, and the concern.

"We can only go so far ... we've worked very had to get it down to five (per cent) and we will work hard to maintain or get it down in future. I do endorse the five percent for this coming year."

Cr Gwenda Allgood said she wasn't happy with the fact that Council had adopted the five per cent rate rise.

"I was more than keen to get it down to four percent," she said.

"I'm disappointed with the five per cent. I've struggled every year with this trying to balance the books."

Cr Harris said he was disappointed to hear some of the things brought out as weaknesses in this budget including funding for redevelopment of the Performing Arts Centre and funds for roads, many of which come under VicRoads' responsibility.

"The amount of time and effort and consultation gone into the budget can't be underestimated and none of us have tried to do anything more than reduce the costs and I commend the budget."

Read Cr McLean's views on the budget on this page.

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