Cash windfall boosts budget

Public submissions and an unexpected cash windfall of $465,000 in federal government grants has changed the shape of Macedon Ranges Shire Council’s 2018/19 Budget Report.
Council adopted the budget, Strategic Resource Plan and Council Plan at its ordinary meeting last Wednesday with minor changes including distribution of additional government funds.
Projects to benefit from the cash windfall are improvement works to Kyneton Museum ($200,000), road improvements ($100,000), roadworks in Edgecombe Street, Kyneton ($130,000), community advocacy and engagement for the Macedon Ranges Sports Precinct project in New Gisborne ($20,000). Fees for visitors to Kyneton Museum will also be reduced.
Council opted out of the proposed $15,000 review of the Local Law No. 10 relating to use of motorised recreational vehicles following strong community objection during the budget consultation process.
Councillor Mandi Mees said public sentiment had “overridden” her initial stance to pursue the review.
“I can’t ignore that this is $15,000 of public money and the number of submissions that have come in to this budget item,” Cr Mees said.
“Given the public interest and reflecting on the possible outcome I believe the commitment of that money would not be appropriate.”
Cr Andrew Twaits opposed the review’s removal. Cr Roger Jukes, who initially pushed for the review to take place, did not attend the meeting.
The $15,000 that was allocated to this review has now been put into council’s existing Places for People funding program.
The budget provides more than $80 million towards delivering services and projects to local communities within the imposed 2.25 per cent rate cap.
Budget initiatives include upgrades to Gisborne and Kyneton tennis clubs, the demolition of the old squash courts in Woodend, improvements to Lauriston Hall and township planning work for Romsey and Gisborne.
Waste charges, which are separate from rates and exempt from the rates cap, cover council collection of kerbside garbage, recycling and green waste.
Council’s waste charge will be increased due to higher charges passed on by contractors due to the additional cost of providing the recycling service.
Minor changes were also made to the Council Plan 2017-27. No changes were made to the Strategic Resource Plan.