Council adopts new budget and updated plan

Ararat Rural City Council’s 2019/2020 Budget and Council plan 2017 – 2021 were adopted at a council meeting last night at Ararat’s Shire Hall.

The budget and Council plan are both strategic documents that guide the organisation’s plans and activities this year and beyond.

Council Mayor Cr Peter Beales said councillors were happy to present the documents to the public after releasing their drafts for feedback last month.

PHOTO: ARCC Council Plan

“The Council Plan is the foundation for everything Ararat Rural City Council will strive to achieve over the next three years, providing a solid strategic framework as we conduct our day-to-day business,” Cr Beales said.

“The 2019/2020 Budget includes more than $14 million worth of capital works, a decrease in staff wages, and turning an underlying deficit into a surplus.”

“This year’s budget is all about investing in the community and we’ve taken the organisation back to basics to ensure this happens.”

Some of the budget highlights include:

• $14.689 million on capital works including:

  • $909,000 on bridge upgrades;
  • $50,000 on rural halls upgrades;
  • $350,000 for the Elmhurst Hall redevelopment;
  • $400,000 for female-friendly amenities at the Willaura Recreation Reserve;
  • $750,000 for upgrades to the Buangor-Ben Nevis Road.

• A $534,000 reduction in the salaries budget.

• A surplus of $3.214 million with an underlying result of a $155,000 deficit, an improvement from the deficit of $3.873 million last year.

• A doubling of grants to hall committees and recreation reserves to $58,600.

• $959,763 for arts, culture and heritage.

“Council is mindful to keep rate rises within the cap but it is important that rates rise by 2.5% each year to ensure inflationary impacts do not erode our capacity to manage recurrent expenditure or deliver infrastructure and services to the community,” Cr Beales said.

The Council Plan – also adopted – aimed to ensure the community is at the forefront of everything the organisation does Cr Beales explained.

Some of the new initiatives included in the Council Plan include:
• Developing township strategies for Willaura and Pomonal.
• Seeking sector partnership for the redevelopment of the McDonald Centre in Ararat.
• Completing the Active Links Project in Ararat (Alexandra Oval and the Ararat Skate Park lighting).
• Holding a cultural festival in 2019/2020.
• Advocating for the Ararat Regional Park Mountain Bike Track.