Council adopts 2023/2024 Budget
Published on 21 June 2023
Mount Alexander Shire Council has adopted a $48.5 million budget for the year ahead, following community consultation and feedback.
Highlights from the budget include commencement of construction of levees, graffiti management, Christmas celebrations and significant investment in local organisations.
Other features include $14.5 million in capital works, which will see upgrades to sports and recreation facilities, continued restoration of the former Wesleyan Church in Chewton, and replacement of bridges over Myrtle Creek and Fryers Creek.
Council is responsible for delivering more than 100 services to the community, including family and children’s services, youth programs, aged and disability care, business and economic development, community planning and development, waste management, library services, and emergency management.
Mount Alexander Shire Council’s Mayor, Councillor Rosie Annear, said that Council is proud to deliver a budget that was developed in consultation with the community.
“It’s a collaborative effort to put together the budget,” said Mayor Annear.
“As well as the input of Councillors and Council staff, we received over 100 submissions from residents during our initial community consultation, and another 40 in our second round of consultation.
“Our community told us that the shire’s sports and recreation facilities need an upgrade, so we’ve made plans to construct gender-neutral change rooms at Camp Reserve and Campbells Creek Recreation Reserve. This will be in place at the reserve’s while we work to upgrade facilities at these sites over the next few years.
“These changes will significantly improve safety and remove barriers to participation for a lot of people, particularly women, girls and gender-diverse people.
“Other plans to improve our sporting and recreation facilities include the installation of lighting at the Bill Woodfull Recreation Reserve. We’re also creating a youth space in Taradale, installing a new netball court at Campbells Creek Recreation Reserve, upgrading lighting at Harcourt Recreation Reserve – and that’s just to name a few projects!
“We know that Christmas decorations and celebrations are important to our community, so we’ve allocated funding to make sure everyone can enjoy the festivities.
“We’re also progressing our work on affordable housing, which is a priority for all Councillors and our community.
“We’ve taken community feedback on board, synthesised it and incorporated it into our budget.
“New initiatives in the budget that are a direct result of feedback from our community include projects to support community organisations such as Business Mount Alexander, Maldon Inc., Castlemaine Safe Space and Castlemaine Fringe Festival.
“Every year we hear from more and more residents about what they’d like to see included in the budget.
“It’s really rewarding to be able to include so many of these community requests and suggestions into the budget.
“I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to have their say on the draft budget, and to those people who came to a Council meeting to speak to us in person.
“We learnt so much about your ideas and what projects are important to you.”
The budget includes an increase to average rates income of 3.5%, in line with the rate cap set by the Victorian Government. Waste charges have been increased by 1% to reflect the rising costs of waste management.
“The rates rise is difficult but necessary. We’ve spent a lot of time discussing and thinking about what is appropriate for our community, and what is financially sustainable for the organisation.
“There’s been a significant increase in the costs of construction over the last 12 months, and Council will have to do more with less which is something we need to keep in mind.
“Overall, I’m proud of what we’ve achieved with this budget, considering the current economic climate.
“I’m thrilled that we’re able to put funds towards so many things that will make big and little differences to residents in our shire.
“Thank you again to our community – for your engagement, your patience and for helping us to make our shire such an incredibly special place to live.”
The budget includes $14.5 million for capital works to improve infrastructure such as roads, bridges, drains and footpaths.
- A number of recreation projects including:
- construction of additional change rooms and installation of sports lighting at Bill Woodfull Recreation Reserve ($1.2M)
- creation of a youth space in Taradale, including a playground renewal ($510K)
- lighting upgrades at the Harcourt Recreation Reserve ($357K)
- installation of temporary change facilities at Camp Reserve and Campbells Creek Recreation Reserve while facilities are upgraded over the coming years ($751K)
- installation of a new netball court at Campbells Creek Recreation Reserve ($649K – subject to government funding).
- Progression of multi-year projects including:
- commencement of construction of Castlemaine and Campbells Creek levees ($2.27M)
- restoring of former Wesleyan Church in Chewton ($409K)
- Replacement of the following bridges $2.32M – depending on successful recipients of grant funding):
- James Bridge over Myrtle Creek.
- Burgoyne Street Bridge over Fryers Creek, Vaughan.
- Continuing a number of annual renewal and replacement programs across a range of assets including:
- community buildings ($165K)
- plant and machinery ($1.34M)
- swimming pools ($135K)
- road resheeting and resealing ($1.3M).
- Several minor projects including:
- bell mouth sealing program ($51K)
- construction of storage shed at Newstead Recreation Reserve ($77K)
- potential installation of outdoor exercise equipment in Newstead and one other site ($51K).
- Commencing investigation and design for a section of Newstead flood levee ($92K – subject to government funding) and replacement of flood gate ($143K).
New and continuing initiatives
The budget includes a number of new and continuing initiatives to help Council’s vision of ‘working together for a healthy, connected shire’.
- Increase to budget allocation for a number of tree management programs. This is to ensure best practice tree management is occurring and to mitigate potential risks associated with trees in public places.
- Introducing new budget allocations to:
- implement Council’s Disability Action Plan (2022-2026) to improve accessibility and inclusion for people living with a disability
- implement strategies contained within Council’s Early Years Plan 2022-2026, which focuses on children aged 0-8 and their families.
- Continuing to progress Council’s work on affordable housing solutions within the shire.
- Delivering the bi-annual Mount Alexander Business Awards to encourage, promote and celebrate business excellence within the shire.
The 2023/2024 Budget can be viewed at Castlemaine’s Civic Centre or online at www.shape.mountalexander.vic.gov.au/draft-budget-2023-2024.