A wage freeze for staff, a 2 per cent cap on rates, and $100,000 for a feasibility study into the Hinterland Environmental Water Scheme are among the highlights of the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council’s 2020-21 budget. The council has also waived all non-commercial sporting club lease and licence fees for 2020-21, waived footpath trading and licence fees until December 31, and standardised and reduced bathing box fees.
Mayor Sam Hearn said the COVID-19 pandemic had presented “significant challenges” for the council this year, and while it was “determined to achieve economic and social recovery for the Peninsula, it will take a sustained collaborative effort to overcome the hurdles we are facing as a community”.
“Council’s finances have been sharply impacted in the first half of 2020 and we’ve had to make over $3 million in operational savings so far,” Cr Hearn said. “We estimate a further reduction of $6.4 million in income for this new financial year, and we have worked hard to deliver a fair and balanced budget under these difficult circumstances. Throughout the next financial year there will be no wage increases for staff and no reduction in services for the community.”
The State Government has capped council rate increases at 2 per cent this year. Cr Hearn said his council would continue to monitor and review its financial hardship policy, providing rate relief for people and businesses that have “a significant reduction in financial capacity due to COVID-19”.
“Additionally, council is committed to economic stimulus projects for our community with a capital works budget of $50.9 million,” Cr Hearn said. “This follows $96 million in capital works delivered or contracted in the last financial year.”
Elsewhere, the council has allocated $4.4 million to manage bushland and foreshore reserves, $1.8 million towards climate change mitigation and adaption, and $1.1 million to the Briars Conservation Park. Economic development and tourism programs designed to promote the region, industry development and visitor servicing will receive $1.5 million.
Social housing projects will receive $100,000; $11.2 million has been earmarked for the completion of the Yawa aquatic centre in Rosebud; $1.6 million for arts and culture; $400,000 for the implementation of a reconciliation action plan, $3.1 million for child and family health and youth services; $5.6 million for aged and disability services, senior citizens’ services, Meals On Wheels and home-based services; and $3.2 million for libraries.
A full copy of the budget can be downloaded here.