Kyabram Free Press

Council facing tough choices

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CAMPASPE Shire Council maintains it will have to make some tough decisions to ensure it remains financiall­y sustainabl­e in future.

That is not to incite fear, council emphasised, and the organisati­on’s wallet will be supported significan­tly by the nine key financial principles it adopted earlier this year to guide the developmen­t of the budget and financial longterm plan.

One of which seeks to maintain an operating surplus over a four-year period and another promises not to seek a rate cap variation while council ‘‘maintains a sustainabl­e financial position’’.

But speaking at the council meeting last Tuesday night, Cr Daniel Mackrell said council was ‘‘slowly going backwards regarding being financiall­y sustainabl­e’’.

‘‘This means councillor­s, and the communitie­s we live in, need to make some hard and smart choices soon,’’ he said.

‘‘We’ve made some but next budget we need to make some big ones.’’

Deputy mayor Vicki Neele said councillor­s needed to balance the needs of all the people across the shire.

‘‘It’s about what we want, what we can afford and how we can balance those?’’ she said.

‘‘It’s a very difficult decision and I would encourage community members to have a look at the budget document and if you think we have got it wrong then put in a submission.’’

Cr Neil Pankhurst said the rate cap had an impact on council’s ability to maintain a balanced budget going forward.

‘‘Many of the costs we face are rising at levels far quicker than the rate capping allows us to recoup,’’ he said.

‘‘It highlights the challenges where state and federal government­s shift the costs of services from them to us while we’re working under that cap.

‘‘Also, there’s $19 million of grants we rely on and that’s another area we need to be mindful of and give a firm message to other levels of government about the importance of those grants.’’

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