Rates in Latrobe City to rise 1.5 per cent

Latrobe City Council has given the green light to a 1.5 per cent rate rise in its most recent budget.

By MICHELLE SLATER

Latrobe City Council is charging an extra 1.5 per cent rates hike in the upcoming financial year as part of the 2021-22 council budget, which was endorsed on June 7.
The new budget is delivering services at existing levels within this rates increase, off the back of a zero per cent rates increase in last year’s budget to help weather the community through COVID. The budget takes into account the costs of the first full year of operating the newly opened Gippsland Regional Aquatic Centre and soon-to-be opened Gippsland Performing Arts Centre, both located in Traralgon.
However, it warns that these operating costs, along with a limited ability to increase revenue, will present “some significant financial challenges” into maintaining existing services in the future.
The budget states that “this will become even more difficult in the future as power generators, which contribute a significant proportion of council’s rates revenue, begin to cease operations”.
Latrobe City councillor Graeme Middlemiss praised the new budget at council’s June meeting, describing it as a “masterful piece of financial engineering”.
“There have been no losses of services for the coming year, it’s effectively business as usual for the community. To achieve (this) within the constraints we are facing is a tremendous effort,” Cr Middlemiss said.
“On achieving this, there will be costs, but the community can be quite happy that within this 1.5 per cent rates increase nothing really changes for the services they will receive.”Latrobe City Council is charging an extra 1.5 per cent rates hike in the upcoming financial year as part of the 2021-22 council budget, which was endorsed on Monday night.
The new budget is delivering services at existing levels within this rates increase, off the back of a zero per cent rates increase in last year’s budget to help weather the community through COVID. The budget takes into account the costs of the first full year of operating the newly opened Gippsland Regional Aquatic Centre and soon-to-be opened Gippsland Performing Arts Centre, both located in Traralgon.
However, it warns that these operating costs, along with a limited ability to increase revenue, will present “some significant financial challenges” into maintaining existing services in the future.
The budget states that “this will become even more difficult in the future as power generators, which contribute a significant proportion of council’s rates revenue, begin to cease operations”.
Latrobe City councillor Graeme Middlemiss praised the new budget at council’s June meeting, describing it as a “masterful piece of financial engineering”.
“There have been no losses of services for the coming year, it’s effectively business as usual for the community. To achieve (this) within the constraints we are facing is a tremendous effort,” Cr Middlemiss said.
“On achieving this, there will be costs, but the community can be quite happy that within this 1.5 per cent rates increase nothing really changes for the services they will receive.”
Cr Middlemiss pointed to financial constraints associated with past borrowings and costs associated with developing and operating large scale projects, foreshadowing “tightened” finances further on.
He also nodded to another $13 million loss in revenue into the next decade associated with last year’s rates freeze.
“You can’t have these great new facilities without operating costs, and you can’t get them without borrowing extra money,” he said.
The budget includes almost $32 million in capital works programs, incorporating $1.8 million in capital grants with no new borrowings.
But council will be drawing on a $10 million state government community infrastructure loan to fund the $7.5m Moe Rail Precinct Revitalisation project and $2.5 million Kernot Hall upgrade.
Differential rates for farms and derelict properties also remain in place, but residents will be faced with a near $20 per-tonne landfill levy increase, as directed by the state government.
Latrobe Combined History Group came out a winner from this year’s budget after asking for an extra $500 annual grant increase to run each of the six district historical societies.