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Budget to give economy a boost

Thursday 10 September

East Gippsland Shire Council is investing more than $64 million in capital works in 2020/21 to drive the economy, support bushfire and pandemic recovery, and provide the region with critical infrastructure and services, whilst not increasing rates and municipal charges over the 2019/20 level.


Mayor Cr John White said Council had, on 25 August, adopted a budget that was both empathetic to the community in such challenging times of drought, bushfire and the pandemic, and financially responsible now and into the future.


“In my eyes, this budget is unprecedented in terms of the size of the capital works program, no rise in the rate and municipal charge collect, and in the context of what our community is experiencing,” Cr White said.

  • $64.766 million capital works program
  • $1,380 capital works spend per resident
  • 42% of capital works externally funded
  • No increase in rates or municipal charge
  • Bushfire and Commercial/Industrial rate waivers and rebates
  • Budget shaped to include bushfire recovery projects
  • Existing user fees and charges remain the same as 2019/20
  • Commercial/Industrial rate rebate of $1M
  • 80% Farm rate differential

“The adopted budget supports the community and gives us a significant opportunity to rebuild our economy through a capital works program that will stimulate the jobs in construction, business and tourism,” Cr White said.


“Council’s own $34.939M capital works investment receives great bang for buck. External (government) funding of more than $23.5M leverages the investment. This is a product of strong Council planning and advocacy on behalf of our community.


“The projects include new assets that will encourage visitation, projects that support business, enhanced recreational facilities, and a continued focus on renewing and improving public infrastructure such as roads, bridges and buildings.” 

  • Lucknow Recreation Reserve Changerooms Upgrade ($2.2M)
  • Road reseal program, including dust suppression ($4.9M)
  • Upgrade of Moroney Street, Bairnsdale ($0.7M)
  • Omeo Valley Road major rehabilitation ($1.0M)
  • Gravel Road Renewal Program ($1.2M)
  • Jemmy's Point - Stage 2 ($0.7M)
  • Eagle Point Foreshore Hub ($0.5M)
  • Genoa Pedestrian Bridge ($1.2M)
  • Bullock Island Bridge ($1.5M)
  • Hospital Creek Wairewa Road Bridge replacement ($0.8M)
  • Turners Road Bridge, Deptford ($0.3M)
  • WORLD Sporting Precinct Stage 1 ($3.9M)
  • Council building renewals ($1.0M)
  • Lakes Entrance streetscape works ($1.1M)
  • Omeo Mountain Bike Trails ($2.1M)
  • Various footpath installations across the Shire ($1.1M)
  • Information technology systems renewals and upgrades ($3.9M)
  • Bairnsdale Landfill Cell 4 construction ($2.0M)
  • Lakes Entrance Transfer Station Upgrade ($2.2M)
  • Bullock Island Masterplan implementation ($2.0M)

“Many of these projects are designed to create places that people want to visit or live nearby. For instance, the Genoa Pedestrian Footbridge, destroyed in the summer’s bushfires, is a key visitor experience piece of infrastructure and key asset for the Genoa and district community. As are projects like the Jemmy’s Point Lookout and Bullock Island at Lakes Entrance, and Omeo Mountain Bike Trails,” Cr White said.


“The WORLD Sporting Precinct in Bairnsdale and Eagle Point hub are projects that will enhance community life, attract residents, and give another reason to visit.”


Council also provides a five per cent weighting towards local content procurement, which sees most capital projects awarded locally.


“The benefit of the works program in economic terms is, conservatively, almost double when you factor in construction jobs, supply chain jobs, increased business activity, and consumer benefit. This is one of the strengths of the budget when considering our current economic climate,” Cr White said.


These initiatives build on Council’s proactive measures to support communities directly and the advocacy for external government funding to support projects and ratepayers. This includes additional financial assistance both in the 2019/20 year and in the adopted budget 2020/21 to assist ratepayers.

  • Rate waivers for all ratepayers whose main dwelling was destroyed in the 2019/20 bushfires for the 2019/20, 2020/21 and 2021/22 years. (If the dwelling is rebuilt or sold during the year the waiver will only apply up to the date the dwelling is able to be occupied or the date of sale.)
  • A rebate to all Commercial/Industrial ratepayers of $1M in 2019/20 year and a further $1M in the 2020/21 year, to be proportionally allocated to each eligible ratepayer.
  • Waiving many fees and charges for part of the year for health registrations, planning permits and leases.
  • Establishment of a new Bushfire Recovery Directorate to provide support and assistance to the community in its recovery.
  • $1.51M for farm rate relief (paid in January 2020)

The Minister for Local Government set the rate cap at 2.0% for the 2020/21 year, however Council resolved that the general rates and municipal charge will remain at the 2019/20 average level of rating for the 2020/21 year. This includes:

  • Farm differential rate be reduced from 82.5% of the general rate to 80%.
  • Commercial/Industrial moves back to 145% of the general rate, noting that there is a rebate of $1million that will be allocated across all Commercial/Industrial ratepayers in 2020/21.
  • Total rates and municipal charges will not increase over the 2019/20 total, but there may be variations to individual rate assessments as a result of the valuations undertaken by the Victorian Valuer General.

Individual rate notices may decrease, increase or stay the same depending on property valuations, which are conducted each year by independent contractors working for the Valuer-General Victoria.


Budget is responsible, supportive:


Chief Executive Officer Anthony Basford said the Budget 2020/21 is responsible, equitable and supports the long-term interests of East Gippsland.


“Operating surpluses are expected in all four years of the budget. This is to ensure Council has funds in reserve to respond to unexpected events and other contingencies,” Mr Basford said.


“The estimated surplus for the 2020/21 year is $22.673M, however it is important to note that when non-recurring capital income is considered the underlying deficit is $2.52M. The underlying surplus or deficit is an important measure of operational financial performance as it negates the impact of one-off capital income.”


“The budget document should be read in conjunction with the Council Plan. When read together, these two key strategic documents provide an insight into the multitude of works, services and projects that Council delivers, and what is planned,” Mr Basford said. 



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