The 2016/17 budget process is underway, with Council having had early discussions this week around an initial draft budget.
As you know, this year the State Government has introduced a rate cap for all Victorian councils at 2.5 per cent. Last year, Swan Hill Rural City Council had one of the lowest rate rises in the state at 2.38 per cent. Therefore, we anticipate Council will be in a good position to continue to maintain service levels in this budget, in spite of rate capping.
However, as highlighted by the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) President Cr Bill McArthur, there are concerns for Victorian councils regarding the issue of cost shifting by the state.
Originally, a number of services were funded equally between the state and councils, such as school crossing supervisors, SES units, library services and maternal and child health. However, over the years, there has been a shift in this funding by the state, which has seen councils increasingly providing the majority of funding for these services.
Despite these challenges, and as mentioned, our Council remains committed to maintaining services through efficiency and strong financial management.
Once the final draft budget has been confirmed, it will be made available to the community for comment. Council will also hold public information sessions in Swan Hill and Robinvale to present the budget to our residents and answer any questions.
Swan Hill Region Food and Wine Festival
The Swan Hill Region Food and Wine Festival is on again this Labour Day long weekend. While tickets to the Friday night cruise have been sold out, there’s still plenty happening, including on Saturday at the Pioneer Settlement.
The day will include live music as well as entertainment across the Settlement and the all-important stalls offering samples of local produce and wine from the region. Don’t forget to also visit the Produce and Design Market on the Sunday from 9am, which will be held in the Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery car park.
Colour Your Run
I’d like to congratulate the organisers and participants of this year’s Colour Your Run event, held last Sunday. Despite the warm weather, almost 1200 people took part in the event. While figures are still being finalised, it’s estimated the event raised between $20,000 to $25,000 for the Swan Hill District Hospice Committee. Congratulations again on such a terrific effort!