Cash-strapped Campaspe delivers very tight budget

May 10, 2018

CAMPASPE Shire has continued to tighten its belt with its proposed $84.4 million 2018/19 budget.

CAMPASPE Shire has continued to tighten its belt with its proposed $84.4 million 2018/19 budget.

But it is still in the black — posting an overall surplus of $159,000.

Even though it will have to borrow the $961,000 from a bank to fix the retaining wall and demolish the former Oscar W’s building in Echuca.

Due to the continual restraint of the Victorian Government’s 2018/19 rate capping of 2.25 per cent mayor Adrian Weston said this had to be a ‘‘conservative’’ budget.

‘‘Yet we are still delivering all of our services and we continue to pour money into our capital works program,’’ he told Free Press sister paper Riverine Herald.

“The budget has been carefully prepared over the past six months with councillors and staff.

‘‘It is a conservative budget but I believe it is financially responsible and comprehensive, supporting services and capital projects.’’

The budget links to the foundations of the four-year council plan.

‘‘But it is also in line with our long term financial plans which sets us up for future years really well,’’ Cr Weston said.

‘‘This rate capping could hurt a lot of councils but we have done some great work in the lead up and planning has got us to this budget.’’

The budget details a range of new key initiatives to be completed across the year.

“This highlights how council is working towards achievement of its vision — we are strong, supportive, vibrant and sustainable,” Cr Weston said.

Some initiatives funded through the budget include:

Finalising the detailed design and starting the construction of the Echuca Industrial Park Stage 3.

Developing and implementing a community education program to support the introduction of a food organics waste service.

Developing a flood study for Echuca, Moama and Torrumbarry.

Cr Weston said the council have many financial challenges.

‘‘These challenges include our reliance on grant funding which changes year to year, increasing external costs such as electricity, as well as a large asset base to maintain,’’ he said.

But it is the capital works program which the mayor said most residents want to know about.

Some highlights of the $28.6 million capital works program are:

■$10.9 million to roads including $2,520,160 gravel resheeting of local roads and $1,490,000 resealing of local sealed roads.

■$3 million to bridges including $400,000 bridge works program shire-wide and $2,050,000 to fix Fox Island Bridge, Fox Island Road, Gunbower.

■$539,377 to recreation and leisure including $166,000 for a detailed design of the Echuca East Community Precinct, $24,688 Echuca Stadium for scoreboards, storage and access control and $156,000 Echuca South Recreation Reserve practice nets.

■$1.4 million to footpaths and cycle paths including $400,000 footpath replacement program shire-wide.

■$2.1 million to drainage including $536,000 McKenzie Road, Echuca outfall drainage and $107,500 for the upgrade of stormwater pumps.

The public can make submissions on the proposed budget in writing by 5pm June 5. An online submission form is available from council’s website.

Copies of the budget are available online or at any council customer service centres.

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