Best case scenario budget

Cr Fay Hull.

Cr Fay Hull.

ARARAT - The 2014/2015 draft budget released on Tuesday by Ararat Rural City Council is a 'best case scenario budget' according to one councillor.

Cr Fay Hull said the budget, which allows for a five per cent rate rise, is a 'best case scenario' budget in that costs have been carefully assessed and cut where possible and there are no planned loss of services.

"Council staff are to be strongly commended for agreeing to the lowest level of EBA salary increases statewide," Cr Hull said.

"And that's significant and we should congratulate our staff for their consideration with that.

"We will also continue with infrastructure maintenance and renewal."

Cr Hull said that without a rate rise council would be faced with options unpalatable to the community.

These would include cutting services, an option she believes ratepayers would not agree to, and reducing infrastructure spending.

"I have yet to find a service ratepayers feel they can do without," she said.

A reduction in infrastructure spending could mean:

Only basic spending on maintenance of roads /bridges/buildings.

Reduced capacity to upgrade sporting, cultural or community facilities.

Inability to fund new projects such as building a new Pomonal Community Centre.

The conversion of street lights to LED lights - which will significantly lower costs in the future.

Cr Hull said this year's Council Budget allows for total expenditure of $29.7m of which $12.159m is raised through rates, with the balance coming from user pay charges and external sources.

She said previously the Council plan allowed for rate rises of seven per cent over four years, while last year the rise was limited to six per cent.

"This budget has been developed over many months, with an enormous amount of work done by Council staff, and it is based on the strategic plan developed by councillors after consultation with the community, extensive research and advice from our very professional staff," Cr Hull said.

"The budget document is comprehensive and takes time to digest - but I urge the community if they are interested in what the council does on their behalf with the rates they pay, and supplemented with external funding - take their time and make the effort because Council does provide an enormous range of quality services for the benefit of all."