‘Inefficient’ budget adopted

LATROBE City Council’s 2012/13 budget was adopted on Monday night, despite a councillor’s fear of “inefficiencies”.

Latrobe City’s $120.9 million budget was adopted with a 7-2 vote in council meeting on Monday, which will include a 5.77 per cent rate rise.

At the meeting, Councillor Darrell White said the budget was “financially prudent”, “conservative” and “responsibly robust”, however his speech did not persuade Cr Sandy Kam, who said “there could have been more efficiencies”.

The budget includes operating costs of $89.8 million; capital works program of $28 million and loan principal repayments of $3.1 million.

Included in the rate rise is a $25 garbage charge, which is part of council’s first year of a phased full cost recovery for the construction of a landfill cell.

However, Cr Kam said she was opposed to the garbage charge as the community was not consulted with council’s intentions.

“I always said we should go out to the community and tell them what our options are with cost of recovery; we are placing an unnecessary financial burden on the community.” Cr Kam said.

“I don’t think it is right we instigate this without having gone and sought the view of the community, considering the economic climate.”

Latrobe City Mayor Ed Vermeulen slammed Cr Kam’s concerns and said she had opportunities during the development process to voice her concerns.

“The opportunities have been there for her to do that,” Cr Vermeulen said.

“There is a responsibility on her to name any such inefficiencies, if one exists.

“There has been opportunities for all councillors to make numerous comments during the nine meetings, which started in October.”

Capital projects include under-grounding power lines as part of Moe Rail Precinct Revitalisation Project, construction of the Morwell district skate park, Moe outdoor pool upgrade, completion of Franklin Street bridge in Traralgon, construction of the Tyers Recreation Reserve change room facilities and upgrade of the Moe Tennis Complex.

“It’s a budget among the lowest increases in regional Victoria and will benefit our long term financial wellbeing,” Cr Vermeulen said.

“The budget is responsible compared to other regional centres.”

Cr Graeme Middlemiss dubbed the budget a “compromise”.

During Monday night’s meeting, councillors also adopted the Latrobe City 10 Year Financial Plan, which is designed to provide guidance to future financial decisions.

Latrobe City finance manager Matthew Rogers said the document was years in the making and was a comprehensive “map” of spendings.

“It gives us the ability to plan our expenditure over the next 10 years and make sure we can afford it,” Mr Rogers said.