Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mayor's Chair
Posted - 19/7/2010
MSC Website

When I was first elected in 1985 I was constantly reminded that the Council must consider all costs when we set budgets and approve projects including the on-going operational costs into the future.

That is why our Council Plan sets the framework of community expectations of service and the budget in an effort to deliver on those community expectations

Murrindindi Shire Council is proposing an annual six per cent increase in rates and municipal charge collections through until 2013/14 in an effort to meet the shire’s rebuilding challenges, community service provisions and future capital infrastructure projects and maintenance needs.

The Council has endorsed the updated 2009-13 Council Plan and Strategic Resource Plan for public consultation, and we make no secret of the fact that there are many financial challenges facing the shire.

While our budget deliberations are progressing, the release of the revised Council and Strategic Resource Plan highlights the growing gap between external funding and Council’s contribution to the bushfire recovery.

The Strategic Resource Plan outlines our financial position until the end of the Council term in 2013/14, and while we are in a sound position, we will need to make a number of significant decisions in terms of project development and maintenance priorities.

At the end of this financial year, as a Council we expect to have spent in excess of $61 million on the fire recovery and received external funding of $54 million.

While we are greatly appreciative of the funds, there is no denying that the $7 million shortfall is having a significant affect on our financial position.

Our challenge in the new financial year is deciding between identified and necessary restoration works and Council’s ability to fund these works.

The Strategic Resource Plan has highlighted the need for Council to support those works that are funded by:
Insurance payments;
Government grants; or
Loan Funds for identified facilities upgrades.

We still have $5.6 million of Bushfire Projects that require funding, and Council will soon be prioritising those projects that fall within our financial means. We will also be indentifying alternate means of funding for those projects and activities which currently have no identified funding source. The reality is if funding is not available then it will be difficult to proceed.

It is essential that we apply prudent fiscal practices so that the Council continues to operate within a sound financial position.

I would urge people to make comment on the plans. It is important that the community is well aware of our challenges and provide the necessary input into determining what they believe are our priorities moving forward.”

The revised Council Plan and Strategic Resource Plan will be available at Council offices, agencies and the public comment page of this website from 20 July 2010. It will be open for comment for 28 days. A revised plan will be endorsed following the public consultation period at the 25 August Council meeting.

Peter Beales