Mayoral Column 30 May 2016

Published on 30 May 2016

Major Serpentine sports project sealed

Those of you who know me personally or regularly read my column will be aware of my passion for community sport.

So it will come as little surprise that I am delighted by Council’s decision to invest over $1.1 million in Serpentine’s sports recreational facilities.

At our May Council meeting last Tuesday a contract was awarded to construct new change room facilities and upgrade the community hall and recreation reserve at Janiember Park.

I have no doubt the move will be warmly received by residents living in Serpentine and surrounding areas.

Sports facilities, and the social activities surrounding them, play a vital role in rural life, bringing people together not only to participate in sport but to socialise and network.

It’s vital we invest in upgrading, maintaining and bringing our community sport and recreation facilities up to scratch in meeting future needs and AFL/NV requirements.

Project works to be carried out include replacement of existing change room facilities, renovations and extensions to the existing hall, construction of a commercial grade kitchen, new social rooms, storage facility improvements and landscaping incorporating the development of a new playground.

As Boort ward councillor, it is satisfying to see residents making the most of the newly refurbished Boort sports clubrooms and we now look forward to our next major community sports project getting underway.

Working together to improve our community

Council is always looking for ways to provide value for money while improving and maintaining community facilities.

For the last year and half we have been doing just that by participating in a rehabilitation program run through Middleton Prison in Castlemaine.

Under close supervision, small prison work crews have been employed on a needs basis, on a cost effective daily rate to work on projects right across the Shire.

While the initiative is building social and work related skills which will help individuals reintegrate into the community, we’re able to make the rate payer dollar go a bit further, so it really is a win-win.

The project is also being utilised by a number of not-for- profit groups within the Shire who are able to access general labouring duties free of charge under the program, delivering tremendous community benefit.

Council’s recreation team has engaged prison work crews to assist with countless community projects through the initiative.

In recent months these have included erecting a boundary fence at Pyramid Hill swimming pool, laying turf and cleaning up debris at the Bridgewater swimming hole, preparing the concrete slab for a Wedderburn basketball court and drainage maintenance work in Inglewood.

Draft budget ready for feedback

The draft budget for the year ending 30 June 2017 is on public display and ready for feedback.

A cursory look at the budget reveals a small cash surplus with a healthy debt free position for the first time in some ten years, after completing the final payment on our Wedderburn office.

It’s the first year of rate capping under the Fair Go Rates system and this means Council had no discretion to apply a rate increase above the legislated rate cap.

While all councils had the option to apply for a variation above the rate cape of 2.5 per cent, we decided not to.

We also decided to increase waste collection services by 2.5 per cent in line with the rate cap and that is the lowest increase we have seen for several years.

Residents interested in finding out more are encouraged to log onto Council’s website on www.loddon.vic.gov.au/our-documents.

Copies of the draft budget are also available for inspection at the Wedderburn and Serpentine Shire offices, post offices, resource centres and neighbourhood houses across the municipality.

Written submissions on the draft budget close on Monday 27 June and will be considered at the June Council meeting on Tuesday 28 June.

Discover and share Loddon’s treasures

Volunteers are the lifeblood of small communities but volunteering also brings its rewards.

Council’s tourism team recently arranged a familiarisation tour around the southern end of the Shire visiting key tourism assets.

This provided a wonderful opportunity for Loddon Visitor Information Centre volunteers to share stories and build on their local knowledge.

Volunteers unable to join the familiarisation tour, and those interested in finding out more about volunteering with the Loddon Visitor Information Centre, are invited to a finger food tea at the visitor centre from 6.30pm next Tuesday 7 June.

A Powerpoint presentation sharing the earlier familiarisation tour will follow tea.

For further information, or to book your attendance, phone the Loddon Visitor Information Centre on 5494 1257 or email loddonvisitorinformation@loddon.vic.gov.au by Wednesday 1 June.