Campaspe signs off $81m budget

By Tyla Harrington

CAMPASPE Shire Council has adopted its $81.8 million budget for the coming year but not without serious warning something will have to give eventually.

Speaking at a special meeting to give the document the tick of approval on Tuesday night, Cr Leigh Wilson said that something would be in the way of services and asset renewal.

‘‘Overall (in coming years) there will be a decrease in working capital and that decrease is council’s ability to do projects, council’s ability to repair things, council’s ability to renew things and that is something we need the community to be aware of,’’ Cr Wilson said.

The 2019/20 budget includes a 2.5 per cent rate rise in line with the Victorian Government’s rates capping system, as well as a $29.4 million capital works program with an operating surplus of $439,000.

Council has labelled it a financially responsible document which delivers existing services at current service levels.

But Cr Daniel Mackrell stressed future budgets would not look the same.

‘‘Hard decisions will have to be made unless we can create a turbo-charged economy,’’ he said.

‘‘Physically we need to be prudent but we also have to look at what the community wants or aspires to have.’’

‘‘In the next couple of years we won’t be sustainable unless we are (prudent),’’ Cr Pentreath later added.

In Echuca, council will upgrade the Echuca War Memorial Aquatic Centre and Campaspe Animal Shelter.

Funding has also been received to separate Echuca Magistrates Court from the existing council building which will include an extension.

Council has also allocated $454,500 towards the beginning of a $3 million upgrade for the Echuca Holiday Park which will eventually see it turned into a ‘‘resort-style’’ facility over the next five years.

Mayor Adrian Weston said there were seven or eight sessions involving robust discussion to ‘‘strike the balance’’ about what should be included.

‘‘We’ve arrived at a great outcome,’’ he said.

Cr Vicki Neele said council had considered the budget over many months and it had not been rushed.

‘‘We’ve looked at many options and many of the decisions have been hard especially when it comes to capital works because we don’t have as much money as we would like to have,’’ she said.

‘‘And we’re limited in those new spends. We have to be careful we’re not creating assets that are going to become a burden to our future generations.’’

The budget was adopted with minor amendments.