Rate rise of 4 per cent proposed for Hepburn Shire

The Hepburn Shire Council is proposing a modest rate rise of four per cent in 2014-15, with roads and rubbish set to take centre stage.

But a number of new projects have also been funded including $35,000 to replace street lighting with energy-efficient LED lighting across the shire, $10,000 to “investigate the business case” for pay-and-display parking meters in Daylesford, and $175,000 for the introduction of a social enterprise at the transfer stations to reduce waste to landfill.

Hepburn Shire mayor Don Henderson said the council was able to make savings and keep rates low by doing things more efficiently.

“We’re spending ratepayers’ money as if it were our own,” he said. “We’re proposing a number of projects as well. There’s a lot of waste in government.”

The proposed budget, which will be considered by the council at tonight’s ordinary meeting, follows last year’s four per cent rise, which was one of the lowest in Victoria. 

By comparison, Ballarat City Council rates went up 7.5 per cent, and Moorabool and Pyrenees shires’  rates increased by 5.50 per cent.

Cr Henderson said the council had to increase rates to some extent but it was looking for areas where it could save.

“We intend to pass those savings on to ratepayers,” he said.

“We’ve got a very low socio-economic demographic ... we want to be able to make sure people can live and survive and do well in our shire.”

Some waste management charges would rise under the Hepburn Shire Council’s proposed 2014-15 budget, including a 7.5 per cent increase in the waste management charge.

Cr Henderson said the council was continuing to look at ways of reducing the cost of waste disposal.

The council’s proposed capital works program for the 2014-15 year is expected to be $7.985 million, with $2.56 million coming from external grants, $105,000 from community cash contributions, $4.818 million from the council and borrowings of $500,000.

Employee costs are forecast to increase by two per cent, or $218,000, to $11.192 million.

rachel.afflick@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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