Indigo budget adopted

Indigo Shire Mayor Bernard Gaffney said ratepayers were heard “loud and clear” in creating the final budget which was adopted at last Tuesday’s monthly council meeting.

Indigo Shire Council has adopted its 2022/23 budget which includes a 1.75 per cent rate increase in line with the Victorian Government rate cap.

The budget outlines a total operating income of $37.5m with a total expenditure of $31.3m including $16.8m in the capital works program.

The $16.8m capital works program is made up of $7.7m in new project allocations and $9.1m in projects already funded in previous years budgets which have been carried forward into 2022/23.

A total of 18 submissions were received in response to the draft budget during the exhibition period, in addition to the more than 300 people who responded to an online survey in the draft budget preparation.

As a result, council has renewed their focus on basic infrastructure maintenance, including greater investment in urban and rural drains and looking after the shires parks and gardens.

Foord St Wahgunyah, specifically raised in the submissions, has been acknowledged by council and will be considered in the priority setting for the allocation of funds from this budget.

Current work to complete the planning and design of drainage infrastructure in Victoria Street, Wahgunyah will be completed in the current financial year and works to implement improvements will also be considered.

Indigo Shire Mayor Bernard Gaffney said the additional investment in drains and flood mitigation is a direct result of the community feedback received during the development of the draft budget.

“We received the highest ever amount of community input into the budget build and we heard loud and clear from our community its desire for council to get back to basics,” Mayor Gaffney said.

“We’re putting an additional $200,000 into improving rural and urban drains, bringing the total investment to $470,000.”

Mayor Gaffney stressed that the budget does not include any new money for cycling infrastructure.

“We’re investing in services that enhance the shire’s liveability, amenity and future sustainability, including $3.1m on waste management service delivery and facilities, $1m on parks and gardens, $656,000 to deliver library services and programs, $553,000 on initiatives to support our early years programs and services, $221,000 on initiatives to support our young people.

“A range of other important issues addressed in the budget include caring for our community, growing our visitor economy, growing our towns, updating and maintaining community facilities, supporting local sporting and community groups to improve facilities, caring for our environment, and investing in our roads, drains, bridges and footpaths.”

Cr Roberta Horne was the only councillor not to endorse the budget.

“Previously we’ve only traditionally had three or four submissions to the budget and now, we have had 18 which is pretty indicative that people aren’t happy and there’s more work to be done,” she said.

“The covidisation of our economy is the one factor that cannot and should not be denied as being the most appropriate reason to review all long standing plans,” she later told the Free Press.

“Future generations will know us as the Covid Council and judge us accordingly.”