Work to deliver the Ararat Rural City Council budget 2023-24 is underway after the adoption of the budget at the Tuesday June 27, council meeting.
Over the past few months, the council has carried out extensive consultation with the community to understand what the residents wanted to see reflected in the budget.
This included face-to-face community engagement sessions across Ararat Rural City and considered submissions through the Engage Ararat platform, which gave community groups, residents, and businesses the opportunity to speak with councillors and share their thoughts on proposed programs for the 23-24 Budget.
Ararat Rural City Council CEO Dr Tim Harrison handed down the 2023-24 council budget at a the council meeting, with updates to key programs developed in response to challenging economic conditions.
"The council has continued with our rating strategy, achieving a net zero per cent rate rise increase in six years (since the 2018/19 Budget) and this one is no different," Dr Harrison said.
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"Maintaining the rate burden carefully across each sector - general, commercial, industrial, and farming - through the council's 'Pie Model' prevents people from receiving unfair rate increases.
"Through new operational efficiencies, this budget ensures the council will continue to deliver a wide range of services, along with an eye to the future."
The 2023-24 budget has a strong focus on infrastructure, with $9.5 million dollar invested in capital works projects, including stage one of the redevelopment of Ararat Leisure Centre, maintaining and repairing rural and urban roads, plus town drainage works.
Investment will go towards major economic and community developments such as the affordable housing initiative, support for the Aradale masterplan, Faade Grants and Workforce Pilot program, implementing a weekend community response team, and programs for young people.
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In adopting the 23-24 Budget, the councillors commented on the strategic direction of the budget document.
Councillors Rob Armstrong, Peter Beales, Henry Burridge, Bob Sanders, Bill Waterson and Mayor Jo Armstrong acknowledged CEO Dr Tim Harrison for his efforts in intentionally keeping a zero-rate increase while responding to economic conditions and maintaining the council services.
It was noted that community support for this budget has been high and service delivery vastly improved.
Ararat Rural City Mayor Jo Armstrong thanked those in the community who contributed to Council's consultation sessions and made a submission to the Budget.
"We've had the opportunity to have really respectful dialogue with community members on the Budget," Cr Armstrong said.
"It makes an enormous difference to receive community feedback - it gives us a strong sense that we're moving in the right direction.
"The Budget is very much a team effort among Councillors, council staff and the community and we look forward to delivering terrific outcomes for the community and position the region as a thriving place to live, work, visit and invest."
Highlights of the Budget 2023/24 include:
- $400,000 towards community projects
- $400,000 foot and bike paths
- $950,000 Ararat Leisure Centre redevelopment
- $1 million Mount William Road reconstruction
- $750,000 urban drainage
- $2.8 million gravel road re-sheeting
- $1 million road resealing
- $2.2 million urban road and laneway sealing
- $100,000 towards faade grants
- $100,000 to support the Aradale Master Plan
- $80,000 workforce project
- $150,000 advocacy for major projects
- $500,000 support for affordable housing
- $100,000 to implement a weekend community response team
- $100,000 towards programs for young people