RATES in Glenelg Shire will rise by more than four per cent as the council directs funds into timber plantation roads and a major landfill project.
The shire will spend $2.75 million on upgrading the Condah-Hotspur Road north-west of Heywood and a further $2.4 million on the first stage of its Portland landfill transfer station.
Other projects include an $844,000 reconstruction of Heathfield-Lindsay Road, near the state border; $700,000 to the Portland Youth Activity Space; and $350,000 to upgrade public toilets.
Glenelg Shire mayor John Northcott said several external financial alterations meant the council had developed a conservative budget heading into the new financial year.
He said state and federal governments had shifted costs onto the municipality in areas such as waste management, emergency response, aged services and children’s services. “The council has a responsibility to cover a range of services across the entire shire and an ever-increasing demand for more services,” Cr Northcott said.
“Often these are services that had previously been provided by state or federal government but have since been abandoned.”
Portland Aluminium remained a major contributor to the shire’s coffers, paying more than $4.4 million in 2013-14, with that figure dipping by $100,000 next financial year.
The mayor said the council’s budget schedule was a thorough process, which involved intense workshops and follow-up discussions, reviews and adjustments.
“The role of the council during this process is to satisfy an increase in community demand, not only for services but infrastructure in terms of both development and maintenance, with keeping rate rises to a minimum,” he said.
“In other words, the decisions we make are a balance of meeting what the community wants with what they are willing to pay. If price is an issue then we must ask, ‘what services are people willing to lose’?”