Just sayin’…

June 9th, 2024Just sayin’…

OK. By now we all know the Hepburn Shire Council is in a bit of a state financially.

By Donna Kelly

OK. By now we all know the Hepburn Shire Council is in a bit of a state financially.

But how did it all go so wrong? The Rex perhaps? Nah. Couldn’t be. Hang on, I think I know what’s happened. The numbers don’t add up. I realised that after I read the following words in the draft budget: “Even after the $4.50 million borrowings and $1.5m operational savings council will still need to identify $4.00 of permanent additional revenue or expenditure reductions in 2025/2026.”

Even the embattled councillors must have got a little laugh out of that. Maybe not.

Talking of typos, I remember quite a few years back hearing of a national newspaper being produced by a laissez faire sub-editor who filled in the front page headline space with big 60 point letters.

Keep in mind the most you should ever write in a headline space is Headline Goes Here – just in case you forget to change it.

But this guy was a joker and wrote WORLD IS… and then he put an F and then a U and then a K and then a T.

You can see how I would be thinking about that as I wade through Hepburn Shire Council’s draft budget and draft town structure plans.

The really funny thing, not for the sub because he got the sack, is that a few copies managed to get printed and delivered before someone called the wonderful “Stop the presses”. I would love a copy if you happen to have one.

Anyway, things are not going well for the council and you could say the ratepayers are revolting. I am sure the council is saying that. It really does feel like a bit of a revolution and then you wonder who will be at the helm when the next elections are held in November.

Will the current mob want another four years or is it time for them to bow out?

Or is it time for the state government to step in and take over? And what does that mean for everything on the table now?

Or will the council look for a merger – but what council would want to take on a cash-strapped neighbour. Ballarat? Moorabool? Maybe more likely Melton because we are going to start looking like that once we turn our farm land into subdivisions of ticky tacky houses.

The swathes going through Middleton Field are already pretty mind blowing and then they go and cut down an historic and important cedar tree. Yes it was on private land, and yes, it made way for access to the estate, but at what cost.

That reminds me of another time when the state government worked to move the fire station at Glenlyon to the other side of Barkly Street, mostly commonly known as the avenue of honour although I have been told it is an avenue of federation.

Anyway, to create access for the fire trucks we were told they needed to remove five of the oaks and elms.

Kyle, myself and a neighbour protested. And many people told us we were against the fire station and even called us tree huggers. Gasp!

Finally, the developer agreed that the trucks could enter from the back of the block and no trees needed to be removed. Problem solved. Although we did have one more stand to make.

A Powercor bloke came to drill under the avenue to connect power. Kyle asked him to hold off while we called his manager. He told Kyle: “They’re just f…king trees, mate.”

I then called the manager who assured me all their staff were highly trained professionals and I had to beg to differ.

Long story a little shorter, they put the power in from the back of the block and the trees are there to continue their journeys today.

I dunno, it’s all a bit crazy right now, and the public consultations for both the budget and the town structure plans are coming quickly. If you have something to say, now is the time.

And for the councillors, I don’t envy your jobs but as I have said before please concentrate on getting it right, rather than just getting it done.

The future looks a little bleak and we really are in your hands. Just sayin’..

Macedon Ranges adopts new budget, shifts to full cost recovery

June 2nd, 2024Macedon Ranges adopts new budget, shifts to full cost recovery

The Macedon Ranges Shire Council has endorsed its new Budget 2024-25 and Council Plan 2021-2031.

The Macedon Ranges Shire Council has endorsed its new Budget 2024-25 and Council Plan 2021-2031.

The final documents follow months of internal consideration and community feedback, with the council inviting submissions over a four-week period in late 2023 and more than 100 submissions received (some in support of other submissions). 

Through this consultation, a number of community-driven ideas will be funded in 2024-25, including resurfacing works for the Romsey netball and tennis courts; LED lighting upgrades for the South Gisborne Tennis Club; and essential design works for several other projects. 

These initiatives are complemented by a Capital Works Program for 2024-25, which includes upgrades to key roads in Baynton, Kyneton, Spring Hill and Woodend; and bridge upgrades in Lancefield, Macedon (Clarke Street footbridge) and Romsey. 

Several key projects started in 2023-24 have also had a further allocation of funding to either close out or continue the projects in 2024-25 including Stage 2 of the Macedon Ranges Regional Sports Precinct, the Macedon Ranges Shared Trail Project and the Kyneton Showgrounds netball development. 

Meanwhile, Council Plan projects due to progress or finalise in 2024-25 include the Kyneton Town Centre Urban Design Framework, the Climate Emergency Response Plan, Open Space Strategy and several recreational master plans including the Macedon Ranges Community Equestrian Facilities Master Plan. 

Mayor Annette Death: “I’d like to thank all those in the community who took the time to provide valuable budget submissions, and to council officers for their consideration and work in finalising these key documents, in partnership with councillors.” 

“We are living through challenging economic times and not everything we would like to fund is possible within one financial year, but with our available funds – including external government grants – we believe we’ve been able to land on a sustainable budget that supports our community.” 

Also of note, as part of the council’s annual fees and charges review it is nw moving towards a full cost recovery model at its three resource recovery facilities, meaning services previously provided free of charge – such as dropping off residential green waste and comingled recycling – will now incur a fee. 

This follows a directive from the Victorian Government’s Ministerial Good Practice Guide on Service Rates and Charges for Kerbside Collection, with councils being asked to move away from including certain fees in the waste charge of rates notices that are for services not specific to a household. 

Consistent with a number of other local councils, the green waste disposal charge is set by cubic metre, with a standard 6x4x1 trailer-load of green waste to cost $13.80. A full list of fees and charges is attached to the Budget 2024-25. 

“The changes to the way Council factors in certain shared waste charges with rates means that we have to adapt and change some of our business-as-usual, to help our Resource Recovery Facilities to pay for themselves,” Mayor Death said. 

“We want to continue supporting our residents by offering important initiatives such as green waste disposal, but this comes at a cost to Council and it is not sustainable for us to continue offering this for free. We know this is a low-cost measure and ensures we don’t operate at a loss.”  

“The good news for our ratepayers is that due to the introduction of these fees at our facilities, the mandatory waste charges within rates notices will not increase as a result.” 

The council received and disposed of about 50,000 cubic metres in the last financial year, with this number steadily increasing by about 5,000 cubic metres year on year. 

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