KINGSTON councillors formally passed council’s 2015-16 budget last Tuesday (9 June).
Ratepayers will face a 4.25 per cent rate rise as foreshadowed in the draft budget released for community feedback last month (‘Rates up by 4.25%’, The News 6/5/15).
Councillors unanimously voted to pass the budget which included $52 million worth of capital works for community projects such as the Westall Community Hub ($4.3 million), a new Mordialloc Life Saving Club facility ($3.2 million) and works to progress the Chain of Parks plan in Kingston’s Green Wedge.
“Council has worked hard to find savings right across our operations so that we could deliver on the things that matter most to the community and keep rates low,” the mayor Cr Geoff Gledhill said.
“Due to our strong focus on sound financial management, council is well prepared to respond to the Victorian government’s planned rate-capping policy, which will be introduced in the 2016-17 financial year, and we will continue to deliver our community quality services and infrastructure within budget.”
Council’s pensioner rebate will rise from $80 to $100.
At the public council meeting to pass the budget Cr Ron Brownlees said Kingston Council had resisted the temptation to excessively raise rates before a planned rate capping plan by the Labor state government is due to come into force.
“We didn’t do what a lot of other councils have done and say ‘let’s add another 2 per cent on to that and grab a couple another couple of million dollars before the supposed rate capping comes in’,” he said.
Cr Steve Staikos noted future rate rises are projected at 2.25 per cent but this may not be enough to enable council to continue to deliver all services to the community.
“I would hope to see it closer to 3 per cent yet I know CPI is not growing by 3 per cent and 2.25 per cent may be a little bit higher than CPI is,” he said.
Cr Staikos said Victorian councils needed to convince the Essential Services Commission review of the state government’s rate capping plan, due in November, that capping future rate rises at inflation is not feasible.
Some other big ticket items in council’s 2015-16 budget include road repairs and resurfacing ($6.1 million), drainage works ($3.2 million), streetlight replacements ($1.5 million) and football repairs ($1.2 million).