Moira Council bonus but no rate relief

Moira mayor Peter Mansfield.
Moira mayor Peter Mansfield.

THE Moira Council has landed a $4.6 million bonus from the Victorian Grants Commission, but the unexpected windfall won’t translate into a rate cut for residents.

The embattled council this week adopted its budget for the new financial year, which had been drafted on a $2.15 million loss.

While more grants have transformed that projected $2.6 million surplus, ratepayers have still been hit with a $150 rates and charges rise.

The grants commission has altered the timing of payments since the draft budget a month ago.

Mayor Peter Mansfield said it would be irresponsible to defer tough decisions to put the shire on a stronger footing.

“Our budget is about putting our house in order, which will benefit all ratepayers and residents,” he said.

“We recognise the increases come at the time when other tiers of government are also tightening funding for programs and services, including those delivered by the council.

“We are looking to the community to work with us.

“We must act prudently, knowing the federal freeze on indexation of grants will reduce our funding nearly $1 million in coming years.”

Major towns such as Yarrawonga and Cobram will get a discount on the $90 charge for an organic waste collection service that will not be available for the full year.

Cr Mansfield said the council expected to reduce its debt to $6.4 million.

In response to ratepayer pressure, the council lifted capital works spending $1 million, from $9.7 million in the draft.

About $293,300 of it will be spent upgrading Yarrawonga showgrounds.

“We are taking a cautious approach to new works because nearly 40 per cent of our budget is consumed by depreciation and the costs of maintaining our 4000 kilometres of roads, more than 550 buildings and more than 20 pools, recreation reserves and centres,” Cr Mansfield said.

“We will be working with communities to identify smarter ways to deliver services that may involve replacing aging buildings and assets with new multi-purpose facilities.”