Council's Draft Budget 2020/21
The Public Exhibition of Golden Plains Shire Council's Draft Budget 2020/21 ended on 29 May, 2020. Thank you to all residents who submitted questions or submissions.
The Golden Plains Shire Council Draft Budget 2020/21 was on public exhibition from 1 May 2020 to 29 May 2020, and all residents and ratepayers were welcome to have their say on next year’s financial plan.
With the sudden and significant economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic still being realised, Council has developed a responsible and fair Draft Budget 2020/21 that respects the challenges of the situation in Golden Plains and puts an emphasis on innovation and efficiency to reduce costs.
The primary focus of this year’s Draft Budget is to confirm Council’s commitment to continue delivering all its current services under the rates cap. Our people and our communities are the heart of Golden Plains – and this is reflected in the majority of budget spending dedicated to more than 60 services for the residents of the Shire.
With the principle understanding that maintaining our assets makes more sense than paying for new replacements, the Draft Budget 2020/21 also keeps Council’s investment in local roads and infrastructure steady with several important major projects funded by State and Federal Governments this year.
Key Features of Draft Budget 2020/21
- $43 million to deliver more than 60 services to the Golden Plains community
- $13.6 million investment in capital assets
- $2.8 million to maintain Council’s assets
- $2.3 million for active ageing and disability services
- $1 million for community planning and grants
- $900,000 for resealing local roads
- $600,000 for gravel re-sheeting of local roads
- $500,000 for improvements to local roads
- 2% rates cap in 2020/21, down from 2.5% in 2019/20
- Waste Management Charge: $340 per household
Have Your Say on Draft Budget 2020/21
Read Council’s Draft Budget 2020/21: With face-to-face interactions closed at Council’s Customer Service Centres, due to the COVID pandemic, residents seeking a hard copy of the Draft Budget can call Customer Service at 5220 7111.
Ask Your Budget Questions: With COVID-19 restrictions presenting a challenge for face-to-face Budget Drop-In Sessions, residents were invited to send in their Draft Budget questions by Wednesday 20 May via email at email@example.com; mail to Manager Finance, PO Box 111, Bannockburn, VIC 3331; or online. Council’s finance team answered questions directly, with a selection of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) published on Council’s website and social media during the consultation period. This information was to help residents to prepare their submission and have their say on the Draft Budget. You can read the questions and answers here.
Make a Budget Submission: Written submissions were able to be lodged by 5pm, Friday 29 May. Submissions could be sent by post to Director Corporate Services, Golden Plains Shire Council, PO Box 111, Bannockburn, VIC 3331; emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org; or submitted online.
Present a Submission to Council: Council will hold a Special Budget Meeting at 6pm, Tuesday 9 June, and everyone who lodged a written submission and requested to speak on it will be able to present it to Councillors at the meeting. The final Budget 2020/21 will be considered for adoption by Council at its Ordinary Meeting in Bannockburn on Tuesday 23 June, 2020.
Your Budget Questions
Thank you to all residents who submitted questions about the 2020/21 Draft Budget. Below are a list of some of the questions Council received over the last few weeks and the provided response from Council:
Has Council considered connecting the Maude Recreation Reserve’s toilets at Bunjil Lookout to town water?
Council has investigated the provision of town water to the Maude Recreation Reserve’s toilets at Bunjil Lookout. Council is currently sourcing additional detailed costings with funding courses in the budget yet to be considered.
What is the Waste Management charge?
The Waste Management charge is charged for each rateable property based on ownership of any land used primarily for residential purposes within the area designated for waste collection. Waste management charges are based on achieving full cost recovery to ensure the service is sustainable for the long term. The annual charge has been retained at 2019/20 levels with a $10 increase due to the Victorian Government’s planned increase to the landfill levy. Subsequent to the draft budget being placed on public exhibition, the Victorian Government announced the deferral of the levy by 6 months and as a result the annual garbage charge will now increase by only $5 to $335. The budget for adoption in June will be revised to reflect this change. Council currently provides weekly recycling and fortnightly general waste collection services.
Does the Waste Management charge apply to properties that do not receive kerbside waste collections?
Residents not receiving waste management services for whatever reason are not charged the Waste Management charge.
Why doesn’t Council open another waste transfer station?
Golden Plains Shire Council operates a waste transfer station in Rokewood. It is not financially feasible to have multiple waste transfer stations in Golden Plains Shire. Residents are also able to utilise the waste transfer stations in City of Ballarat and City of Greater Geelong.
Why is the Waste Management charge increasing?
Waste management charges are based on achieving full cost recovery to ensure the service is sustainable for the long term with any surplus generated from the garbage charge will be offset against future garbage costs. The annual charge has been retained at 2019/20 levels with a $10 increase due to the Victorian Government’s planned increase to the landfill levy. Subsequent to the draft budget being placed on public exhibition, the Victorian Government announced the deferral of the levy by 6 months and as a result the annual garbage charge will now increase by only $5 to $335.
Council is required to restore the closed Rokewood and Teesdale sites to a particular standard and has an unfunded liability of $1.6 million to complete these works. Any surplus generated will be utilised for these landfill rehabilitation works.
Why does Council charge rates?
Councils have a responsibility to provide access to services and infrastructure for the public benefit of all and have the challenge of providing these services in a rate capped environment. Golden Plains Shire Council offers a wide range of more than 60 services and benefits to the community, with the expectation that all property owners pay a fair share of rates towards these services. The Local Government Act 1989 enables councils to levy rates and charges.
What is the rate cap for 2020/21?
Since 2015, the Victorian Minister for Local Government sets local council rate caps and oversees the property valuation system used to calculate rates. A rate cap is the maximum amount a council can increase general rates and municipal charges. The 2020/21 rate cap for general rates and municipal charges has been set by the Minister at 2.0%. This is down from 2.5% in 2019/20.
Why does Council levy a Municipal Charge to all ratepayers?
One of the challenges of the legislated rating system is high population growth. Properties in growth townships with increasing property values will continue to pay much higher rate increases than properties in other areas of Golden Plains Shire, resulting in properties in growth townships typically experiencing rate increases much higher than the average rate cap, with other areas experiencing rate decreases. In an effort to make this system fairer, the municipal charge is a flat fee of $306 applied to all properties.
Why are food vans expected to face a fee increase of 115%, especially when they are facing difficulty due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
Over the past year, Council has only issued two Mobile Food Truck permits. One is currently not operating due to issues not related to COVID-19, and the other was issued recently in Bannockburn. There was no fee for this due to a downturn in its business, however, they have been operating once a fortnight in Golden Plains Shire and in other areas in the City of Greater Geelong. This business is based in the City of Greater Geelong, and not Golden Plains Shire.
Why is Council increasing the fees for dog breeders?
Domestic Animal Business application, inspection and registration is a lengthy process and involves a large amount of Council officer time. Domestic Animal Business Breeding fees are required for breeders that have more than two fertile females, and are either not Dogs Victoria members or are breeding ‘cross’ breeds to sell. Victorian councils have been advised by the Victorian Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions that they are to charge a substantial fee to recover costs. This registration is part of the cost of breeding and selling animals.
Why is there an increase to the archive planning file recovery fee when Council’s has a new electronic records management system?
The archival planning recovery fee is for the retrieval of files that are not digitalised. While Council has embraced digital records in recent years, not all records are yet digitalised. This fee is to ensure that Council’s costs and administrative fees are covered, including Council officer time and external contractor time, when required.
What does Council mean by a ‘recreation vehicle’?
A motorbike or motorised recreational vehicle is defined on Page 10 of the Golden Plains Shire Council Local Law. That being a motor vehicle as defined in the Road Safety Act 1986, whether registered or unregistered, used for recreational purposes on any land (excluding a Road) and includes, but is not limited to, the following motor vehicles:
- a motor vehicle with two (2) wheels, with or without a sidecar attached that is supported by a third wheel;
- a motor vehicle with three (3) wheels that is ridden in the same way as a motor vehicle with two (2) wheels; and
- any other motorised, recreational vehicle including, but not limited to, mini-bikes, trail bikes, monkey bike, motorised scooters, motorised go-carts, all-terrain vehicles and quad bikes,
- but excludes:
- a motorised wheelchair, or other aid used by a Person with a disability or limited mobility;
- a motorised farm vehicle that is being used for farming purposes; and
- a motorised bicycle with a maximum capacity of 22 watt aggregate power.
How is ‘use’ of a ‘recreation vehicle’ defined by Council?
Use involves the riding of a motorbike or motorised recreational vehicle. This does not include idling, or standing while the vehicle is turned off. Excessive idling is dealt with under EPA guidelines.
Will the proposed new charge be levied by Council to any person who owns a recreational motorcycle?
This fee will be charged on any new permit to ‘use’ a motor bike or motorised recreational vehicle on private land. This Local Law has been in place since January 2017, and nine permits have been issued, with seven remaining current. Council receives complaints relating to the noise caused by motorbikes on private land on a weekly basis. The Local Law and permits restrict the hours of use to protect the amenity of the area.
Will the new charge be levied on children’s motorcycles?
If the motorbike or motorised recreational vehicle complies with the definition in the Local Law, and the land owner intends to use them on their property, then a permit is required.
How will silent, but high-powered fast electric mountain bicycles be classed?
If the motorbike or motorised recreational vehicle fits the definition in the Local Law, and the land owner intends to use them on their property, then a permit is required. A permit may restrict a landowner using their bike in sensitive areas on their property. Council receives complaints from neighbours relating to damage caused by motorbikes, as well as noise caused.
Will the charge be levied against a property owner or tenant who allows a visitor to briefly ride or drive a recreational vehicle on their land once?
Yes, a permit would be required by the owner or tenant of the property. Even if this occurs on a single occasion, it could be for multiple hours, resulting in numerous complaints to Council. If a permit is issued, the owners or tenants will know the guidelines and conditions to follow.
Will Council keep a register of such vehicles kept in the Shire, and how will it establish where such vehicles are used?
Council has a software program that records all Local Law permits that are issued, including for the use of motorbikes and motorised recreational vehicles. This program documents the permit conditions, and a copy of the permit is also attached to Council’s document management system. Council officers rely on this when required to investigate a complaint from neighbours.
How does Council propose to establish where recreational vehicles are kept and used on private property?
A permit is required to use a motorbike or motorised recreational vehicle within a Residential Zone or any premises less than two hectares in size. A permit is also required if you use two or more in any zone between 2 and 20 hectares, and a permit is required if used in any area more than 20 hectares in size. This is not applicable to motorised wheel chairs, motorised bicycles under 22 watts and for motorbikes used for farming purposes.
How is ‘private land’ defined for the purpose of this new charge?
In relation to permits to use recreational vehicles on private land, private land is defined as any property located in a residential zone under the Golden Plains Shire Planning Scheme.
Has financial provision been made to upgrade and improve the well-used public toilet block at Cape Clear?
The 2020/21 Draft Budget does not include an upgrade of the public toilet block at Cape Clear. The Draft Budget does include $13.6 million investment in capital assets for infrastructure, buildings, recreation, leisure and community facilities and plant machinery and equipment.
How much of the budget will be spent in Bannockburn? It appears that a disproportionate amount of money is going into Bannockburn.
Council has a responsibility to provide services and infrastructure across the entire Golden Plains Shire and has included $43 million in the 2020/21 budget to be spent on the delivery of more than 60 services within the Shire. With more than 60 direct services such as aged care, meals on wheels, libraries, kindergartens, immunisation, planning and building, maintenance of infrastructure and road works Council ensures services are provided in every corner of the Golden Plains Shire. Capital investment in local roads and infrastructure throughout the Shire has been maintained in this year's Draft Budget, with a number of important projects included in recreational leisure and community spaces. The 2020/21 budget includes $13.6 million investment in capital assets for infrastructure, buildings, recreation, leisure and community facilities and plant machinery and equipment.
Key projects include the following:
- Roads (900k resealing, $600k resheeting, $2.8m improvements, $1.1m Shelford-Mount Mercer Road)
- Bridges ($2.3m Slate Quarry Rd bridge rehabilitation, $700k Geggies Road bridge replacement)
- Buildings ($60k Linton Depot refurbishment, $500k Three Trails Project)
- Parks and Open Spaces ($150k refurbishment of playgrounds, $180k cypress tree replacement program)
- Recreation Leisure and Community ($102k Linton cricket nets, $500k Inverleigh Sporting Complex Clubroom upgrade, $832k Bannockburn Soccer Club female friendly changerooms, $366k World Game Soccer)
Council is lobbying, or has lobbied successfully, for funding for the following projects:
- Inverleigh Sporting Complex Clubroom upgrade $500k (fully funded by Federal Government)
- Bannockburn Soccer Club female friendly changerooms $832k (fully funded by Federal Government)
- World Game Soccer $366k (leveraging federal funding for lights and fencing)
- Rural development projects (seeking $480k for three trails)
Why is Council not freezing rates due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
One of the challenges of our legislated rating system is high population growth and continuing to provide services and infrastructure to a growing population in a small Shire. Council did consider impacts of not applying the rate cap of 2.0% however the long-term cumulative impact is significant amounting to millions of dollars which is not financial sustainable to a Council of our size.
With State and Federal Governments taking the lead on major financial measures including the new Jobkeeper and increased Jobseeker programs to keep regular income coming into households, Council has reviewed a variety of measures to alleviate the pressure of upcoming payments while still maintaining its delivery of important community services and its responsibilities as a significant local employer. These measures have been funded in Council’s Draft Budget 2020/21, and include:
Relief for Ratepayers and residents experiencing financial hardship
- Introduction of special COVID-19 Financial Hardship Policy for local businesses and Golden Plains Shire Council ratepayers
- Suspension of all current debt recovery action for unpaid 2019-20 rates through to 30 September 2020
- Waive interest on overdue 2019-20 rates and penalties for late payment for animal registration fees up to 30 September 2020
- New payment plans for animal registration fees
- Commitment to pay invoices from all local businesses within 14 days to support cash flow
- Applications for septic, building and planning permits that expire before 30 September 2020 will be considered and, if approved, extended for 12 months at no cost
- Refund of all permit fees for events and activities that have been cancelled or closed as directed by Government
- New allowance for commercial businesses to reduce their waste collection arrangements if necessary
- Free mentoring support for small businesses experiencing hardship
- Free promotion of local businesses on Council’s website and social media with Be Kind to Business campaign: goldenplains.vic.gov.au/business/be-kind-business
- Dedicated COVID-19 business support page on Council’s website with links to Federal and State Government programs: goldenplains.vic.gov.au/business/covid-19-business-support
- Access to dedicated business support officer within Council for local businesses to receive individual assistance
- Council will continue budgeted capital works as scheduled to maximize local business and employment opportunities
2020 Rating Strategy Review
At its February 2020 Ordinary Meeting, Council approved an extensive review of the Rating Strategy to further increase equity across the Shire. The new rating principles are applied in Council’s Draft Budget 2020/21.
Key features of the Rating Strategy Review include:
- All residences will now be charged the same rate in the dollar.
- New differentials will be established for all farm properties, based on size and land use. Farms that are considered incoming generating will be charged at a different differential to farms used for residential use.
- Every vacant land block in the Shire will be charged the same rate in the dollar.
- All business, industrial and commercial properties in Bannockburn will be charged 120% of the rate in the dollar. Businesses outside of Bannockburn will be charged 100%.
Rates Support in Draft Budget 2020/21
Golden Plains Shire Council has confirmed a package of financial relief options for local residents and businesses to support the Golden Plains community in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These measures have been funded in Council’s Draft Budget 2020/21.
Ratepayers and residents experiencing financial hardship
- Introduction of a Special COVID-19 Financial Hardship Policy for Golden Plains Shire Council ratepayers.
- Suspension of all current debt recovery action for unpaid 2019/20 rates through to 30 September 2020.
- Waive interest on overdue 2019/20 rates through to 30 September 2020.
- Waive penalties for late payment on pet registration fees through to 30 September 2020.
- New payment plans available for animal registration renewals.
Business support includes:
- Introduction of a Special COVID-19 Financial Hardship Policy for local businesses.
- Commitment to pay invoices from all local businesses within 14 days to support cash flow.
- Extension of time applications for business-related septic tank and planning permits expiring before 30 September 2020 can be lodged at no cost.
- Refund of all permit fees for events and activities that have been cancelled or closed as directed by Government.
- New allowance for commercial businesses to reduce their waste collection arrangements if necessary.
- Free mentoring support for small businesses experiencing hardship.
The COVID-19 Financial Hardship Policy is available on Council’s website: goldenplains.vic.gov.au. For more information or to apply, call Council’s Customer Service team at 5220 7111.