Indigo Shire Council has proposed a rates increase of 1.75 per cent, in line with the Victorian government cap, as part of the announcement of its 2022/23 draft budget.
Major projects at Chiltern, Beechworth, Yackandandah and Rutherglen make up the bulk of the budget endorsed by councillors at Tuesday night's council meeting.
A $16.7 million capital works program included $7.6 million in new project allocations and $9.1 million in projects already funded to be carried into the next financial year.
Highlights included the Chiltern Community Hub, Beechworth to Yackandandah Rail Trail, Epic Mountain Bike Trail, which will connect the two previous towns, as well as funds to start the Rutherglen Wine Walk Cycle Trail, which has received $5.1 million in federal government grant funding.
"We're proposing to spend $2.5 million on maintaining and upgrading the shire's roads, bridges, pathways and drains and we plan to spend almost $1 million on maintaining our parks and gardens," Indigo Council mayor Bernard Gaffney said.
Cr Gaffney said work would start next year on a tree canopy strategy to ensure the council primarily continued to plant trees for mitigation against climate change.
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Cr Roberta Horne voted against the budget and raised several concerns.
"We need to get better at balancing the desires of a small group of people who want to participate in free recreational activities whenever they wish against the everyday needs of our ratepayers who seek, as a minimum, a safe environment in which to live, affordable housing and a secure job," she said.
"As a small municipality, I believe we should have the flexibility to respond to the extenuating and ongoing circumstances we face and yet here we are perpetuating plans that see us delivering a budget that assigns only $482,000 to footpaths across the whole shire and $1.86 million to cycle tracks.
"I'm sorry but I'm adding a serving of squashed avocado to my labelling of last year's budget as a 'Lycra and Latte' budget."
The draft budget is on public exhibition for community feedback until June 7.
Deputy mayor Peter Croucher was unable to attend in person due to illness, but no councillors nominated to chair the meeting when Cr Gaffney was required to step outside the chamber for the decision.
It will be raised again at the June meeting.
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