A Community and Future Focused Budget

Posted on July 14, 2021

Budget boosts community infrastructure and support

Meander Valley’s Community and Future Focused Budget

Meander Valley Council has adopted the 2021-22 budget, approving an increase in the General Rate of 3.75 percent. This puts Council on track to recover from the financial impacts of COVID-19 whilst continuing to meet increasing expectations of service from the community at a time when costs are rising. A return to a balanced budget will be achieved in 2022-23.

“We had no rule book for dealing with the pandemic. Supporting our community and businesses by delivering the $1.7M COVID-19 Recovery Package and freezing any increases in rates and charges were the right decisions. However, with costs continuing to rise particularly in the areas of waste and construction, we just cannot afford to absorb these costs any longer. That said, we still have one of the lowest residential rates in the state,” Mayor Wayne Johnston said.

This years’ budget delivers more than $11.4 million in community infrastructure across Meander Valley including upgrades to Las Vegas Drive Reserve and the Deloraine Football Club and, the construction of a pump track in Alveston Drive. These projects are in addition to the replacement of the Selbourne Road bridge and the delivery of an extensive rural road resurfacing and reconstruction program to improve safety and serviceability.

The great work of local organisations and volunteers has also been supported, with Council allocating more than $100,000 in funding to the community grants program.

“Our budget is much more than a ‘back on track’ budget. It’s community and future focused and delivers programs and development that will help us build a strong social, economic and sustainable Meander Valley.

Council’s highly successful community car service will also be receiving a new vehicle. Mayor Johnston said the community car has proven to be a highly valued service.

“It’s one of the most direct ways we can help the community and the service is always in demand.”

Council’s Strategic Community Plan and community programs will also be renewed.

“COVID-19 has sort of hit the pause button when it comes to the community engagement space. Within the realms of our new normal, we will be working with the community to develop a new plan that will set our direction for the next five years and support our community and the incredible network of local organisations and volunteers who work within it,” Mayor Johnston said.

In line with its future focus, Council has allocated additional funding to support an ambitious modernisation program targeted at information technology and sustainable waste management.

“This work will help us deliver services the way the community expects now and into the future,” Mayor Johnston said.

A record $2 million is set to be invested in waste management alone.

“Like many other Councils, we have been absorbing the rising costs of waste for some time. Our long term contracts have provided us with a buffer, but our facilities and collection contracts must now be renewed. As of the 2022 financial year, costs to Council for waste management will have risen by over $1 million over the last few years,” Mayor Johnston said.

In addition, Council’s landfill at Deloraine will reach end of life within the next year and work is needed to rehabilitate the site. A new waste transfer station will be built ahead of work to increase capacity at the site.

“When landfills reach end of life, you can’t just throw dirt on top and walk away. Buried waste continues to break down and must be appropriately managed long term,” Mayor Johnston said.

Funding has also been allocated to the development of a new waste management strategy that will contain a suite of contemporary and more sustainable services such as food and garden organics.

To help pay for these expenses, Council’s waste infrastructure contribution will increase to $107.

“Council is aware of the community’s changing expectations, particularly with regards to waste collection services. However, we are working hard to minimise costs to ratepayers. We will be going back to market to try to secure the most competitive contracts we can and all residents will receive tip vouchers this year,” Mayor Johnston said.

The vouchers will be valid for use at all Meander Valley waste facilities and at Launceston’s Remount Road facility.

“We recognise that for some residents in the far eastern side of the municipality it’s more convenient and better for the environment if they use a facility closer to home,” Mayor Johnston said.

Council anticipates the vouchers will be distributed in August and in the meantime, all waste facilities and services will continue as normal ahead of the release of the new waste management strategy expected in coming months.

“On behalf of Council, I would like to thank the staff for their work to deliver such a promising budget in these challenging times. To be balancing the books as early as 2022-23 is testament to your efforts,” Mayor Johnston said.