It took less than 20 minutes for Latrobe City councillors to adopt council’s final budget for the forthcoming financial year.
In a special council meeting on Monday night, three councillors spoke of constrained finances amid a new cap on rate increases, an indexation freeze on federal financial assistance grants and increasing early childhood staffing ratios.
Councillor Graeme Middlemiss said despite the ease with which council had produced the 2016/17 budget, he regarded this as one of the most difficult during his time as a councillor.
“There are rising expectations from our community… (there is) continual pressure on this council to provide capital works and new facilities and we are facing for the first time constraints on our budget spend,” he said.
“Rate capping is going to make it harder and harder going forward; matching that constraint with community expectation.
“I’m certainly happy to commend this budget with a gentle warning the future doesn’t look too good.”
Council will continue to deliver its current level of services in the next financial year and has allocated about $40 million to its capital works program.
It proposes to borrow $2.1 million to complete the design of the Latrobe Creative Precinct – a project that still relies on a federal funding commitment.
Latrobe City chief executive Gary Van Driel reiterated that due to a three per cent rate rise last year, the tightening to 2.5 per cent was not too large.
He said a prolonged series of capped rate increases was sure to impact the budget in coming years, with council reviewing its 10-year financial plan to take those constraints into account.
To view the budget for 2016/17 and council’s four-year strategic resource plan, head to