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Mayoral Column 14 May 2018

Released on 14 May 2018

Draft budget out for comment

Following its consideration at a Special Council meeting on 8 May, Loddon Shire’s 2018/19 Draft Budget was released for public comment on 14 May.

The draft budget sees Council remain in a strong cash position with a small surplus and no new borrowings. It proposes a 2.25 per cent average rate rise in line with the State Government’s rate capping level.

Similar to last year’s budget, kerbside rubbish collection charges will increase by five per cent – ensuring management of waste remains cost neutral. These waste management costs include the operation of landfills and transfer stations across the Shire as well as kerbside collection services.

The budget contains $11.76 million in capital works including $4.2 million for works on infrastructure projects – such as road reseals and construction, shoulder resheets, footpaths and drainage. The capital works budget also incorporates $2.8 million for the Donaldson Park redevelopment and $1.08 million for caravan park improvements (both projects are conditional on external funding, which is included in these totals).

There is an ongoing commitment to Council’s Community Planning program of $750,000 and continued support for aged services and early youth programs.

The draft budget also contains $660,000 to upgrade Council’s information systems to enable the community to engage with Council more efficiently, including through improved operations and greater productivity.

Copies of the 2018/19 Draft Budget can be accessed from Council’s website at www.loddon.vic.gov.au/our-documents

Hard copies are available for inspection at Shire offices in Wedderburn and Serpentine as well as post offices, resource centres and neighbourhood houses across the Shire.

Written submissions to the draft budget will close at 5pm on Friday 8 June 2018.

Council will meet to consider submissions at the Council Forum on Tuesday 12 June. Following this, Council will consider adoption of the Draft Budget at its Ordinary Meeting on Tuesday 26 June 2018.

Older Victorians urged to stay safe online

Consumer Affairs Victoria is urging older Victorians to stay safe online with the message “when in doubt don’t”.

According to Consumer Affairs, many older Victorians are attractive targets for scammers because they often own substantial assets and have access to life savings and superannuation. In fact, research shows that older Victorians lose more financially in scams than any other age group.

Older Victorians are the fastest growing online user group in the country, with many going online to keep in touch with children, family and friends, conduct research, book holidays, catch up on television and more.

Life events such as financial hardship and recovering from illness, loss and trauma can also leave older residents more vulnerable to scams.

Scammers are professional criminals. Anyone can fall for a scam because scammers are getting smarter and using more sophisticated tricks to deceive thousands of older Victorians every year.

Consumer Affairs offers the following tips for staying safe online:

• Don’t open suspicious text messages, pop-up windows or emails.
• Be wary of any emails or requests on social media from people you don’t know.
• Avoid sending money, personal or financial details to someone you’ve never met in person, especially if you are online dating.

Find out more about the common types of scams, and tips on how to identify, avoid or report a scam at www.consumer.vic.gov.au/scamsavvy.

Premier’s Volunteer Champions Awards

The 2018 Premier’s Volunteer Champions Awards are now open for nominations.

The awards aim to recognise outstanding volunteers from across Victoria, from all sectors, roles, causes and communities.

This year there are four categories in the awards – Leadership, Impact, Service and Teamwork.

Loddon Shire has many wonderful volunteers who give so much of their time on a daily basis. The Premier’s Volunteer Champions Awards are a fantastic opportunity to recognise and celebrate these volunteers.

Taking the time to nominate someone shows that you’ve noticed their efforts, value their contribution, and recognise their skills and efforts.

Nominations close at 5pm on Monday 28 May 2018. For more information regarding the awards, including how to nominate, visit www.volunteer.vic.gov.au/awards

Basin Plan bipartisanship welcomed

In February I wrote about Loddon Shire’s membership of the Murray River Group of Councils (MRGC) and how one of the priorities of the MRGC is water, including the balanced implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

At the time of writing that column, machinations in the Federal Senate had made the future of the Basin Plan uncertain. A disallowance motion proposed to block an amendment to the Sustainable Diversion Limits for the Southern Basin recommended by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority. Councils in the Southern Basin, including the MRGC, were concerned that if the amendment was disallowed, it would be a devastating blow to communities in the area.

Therefore, it was good to see Coalition and Labor come to a bipartisan agreement regarding the Basin Plan to secure the passage of the Sustainable Diversion Limits amendment and other amendments through parliament. This was very welcome news for communities within the Southern Basin, providing them with greater certainty into the future.

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