Mayoral Column 21 April 2014

Published on 21 April 2014

Debt story has no basis

A few rumours have been circulating in the community lately to the effect that Loddon Shire is badly in the red, following a recent report on local radio containing that claim.

It’s not true.

The news item said the Shire was $2.5 million in debt, leading to concerns among residents that Council’s financial well-being was suspect.

The report took the notion from Council’s approval in March of its latest long-term financial plan for the period of July 2014 to June 2024, which forecast potential annual deficits over the next decade of an average $296,000.

There’s no legislative requirement to draft and adopt such a plan, but Council believes it is best practice to do so, in the interests of providing some structure for decisions it will make in future years.

Council staff used the 2013/14 budget as a starting point, assessing the cost and timing of each of the Shire’s strategic documents and plans to come up with the best forecast possible, given the variables involved.

The document pointed to a potential accumulated deficit of $2.96 million over the life of the plan, but, by its very nature, a 10-year forecast is a highly fluid thing.

I assure Loddon Shire residents that, contrary to what they might hear, Council is not in debt, but is, in fact, one of the most financially sound municipalities in Victoria.

One of Council’s greatest attributes is its competent financial management and the community can be secure in the knowledge that the Shire’s purse is in highly capable hands.

This detailed plan will continue to be a helpful guide to Councillors as they plot the way ahead for the Shire’s finances over the coming years.

Streetscape plans progress

A $1.4 million project to upgrade and beautify Wedderburn’s main street is gathering pace, with finalising the design the next step.

The Wedderburn Streetscape Improvement Project is an initiative of the Wedderburn Development Association and Community Plan Committee, in partnership with Loddon Shire Council.

It has been under discussion for several years, with community consultations held in 2010 and draft concept plans released two years later.

The area to be worked on is along High St between Kerr and Reef Sts, plus a block each way on Chapel St.

Project co-ordinator Adrian Lowery said there were three main sections to be addressed.

“The southern gateway will see changes to tree planting and the road intersection,” Mr Lowery said.

“At the northern end, we are working with the responsible authority, Vicroads, to examine issues around clearance.

“In the middle section, we’re planning to install new kerb and channel with more trees, underground drainage into Nardoo Creek and new footpath pavements.

“Jacka Park will have its low fence removed, but the large entrance gate will remain.  The school crossing will be upgraded to accommodate wheelchair access and visibility on to the Calder Highway from Kerr St will be reassessed.

“The Memorial Hall will have some grounds work done, while the light poles in the area may be replaced by more modern fittings, subject to funding and further discussions with Powercor.”

The project is being funded by Wedderburn ward community planning allocations, Council’s own Community Planning resources and the state government.

Works are expected to begin in spring, with completion slated for the middle of June next year.

Check your HALO

Loddon Shire residents are being urged to assess their own immunisation needs, as well as those of their families, during Immunisation Week, 21-27 April.

“Immunisations are required throughout life, not just in childhood,” said Victoria’s Deputy Chief Health Officer, Dr Michael Ackland.
“Health, age, lifestyle and occupation (HALO) are the four key factors that determine an individual’s immunisation needs.”

An online quiz on the Department of Health’s consumer health website, the Better Health Channel, leads users through a series of questions to determine which vaccinations, if any, they should consider.

“In Victoria, the vast majority of parents are vigilant in ensuring their young children are fully immunised, but these numbers drop for secondary school immunisations,” Dr Ackland said.

“There are also immunisations recommended and provided free for people from 50 years old.”

For more information, go to www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/immunisation

Meanwhile, Council is continuing with its annual program of free immunisations for infants and secondary school students, with the next sessions planned for 8 May at Boort and Serpentine (infants) and 29 May at Wedderburn and Boort (students).

To make a booking, please phone 5437 7999. Immunisations can also be provided by doctors and practice nurses.

Hard rubbish days

Loddon Shire Council plans to conduct its annual kerbside hard waste collection days next month.

Residents of Boort, Pyramid Hill, Mitiamo, Dingee, Serpentine, Borung, Wychitella, Korong Vale, Wedderburn, Inglewood, Bridgewater, Newbridge, Tarnagulla, Laanecoorie and Eddington can place items such as white goods and old bed frames out on their nature strips on Sunday 4 May (not before).

Council staff will start collecting these items on Monday 5 May.

Residents in the Logan area may deposit hard waste at a collection point located on the Logan-Kingower road opposite the Avoca Forest Hotel, while Fenton’s Creek residents can leave their waste at a collection point located next to the Fenton’s Creek Hall.

This hard waste will also be collected from 5 May.

Items should be sorted into piles – for example, metal items, recyclable items and white goods. The total volume should not exceed 1m square in size.

House owners should note that perishables, tyres, oils, batteries, paints and chemicals, car parts, mattresses, TVs, computers, monitors and general garbage will not be picked up.

Council requests that any unsuitable items left behind after collection be removed from the nature strip immediately.
For further information, phone Darren Schultz on 5494 1200.

New website goes live

Loddon Shire’s brand-new website went live last week – the culmination of more than nine months’ work by Council staff and contractors.

The new-look site puts all of Council’s services at your fingertips, with easy-to-find information on community events and facilities, tourist attractions, business and investment opportunities, historical records, Council news and policies and much more.

Please visit us soon on www.loddon.vic.gov.au