This evening Maroondah City Council met to debate the 2010/2011 Draft Budget and the 2010 to 2014 Council Plan. The Council Plan provides an overview of priorities over the next four years to ensure that objectives can be measured and achieved, while the Council Budget reinforces the objectives specified in the four year plan, through the allocation of resources.
Council adopted both the Draft Budget and the Council Plan, which means that both documents are placed on public exhibition. Unlike State and Federal Governments, community members can formally comment on Council’s draft budget and plan through a written submission process. Furthermore these submitters can be heard at a panel hearing that will be held on Wednesday the 23rd of June, with all submissions being taken into account prior to the finalisation of both documents.
Council’s Draft Budget supports a new long-term strategy for Maroondah City Council, whereby the Council will be delivering an operating surplus within the next two years. Previously, Maroondah City Council was operating at a deficit and was forecast to do so for at least the next five years. A Council is like any other organisation and cannot continually run at a deficit and would have severely restricted the Council’s ability to invest in community facilities in coming years.
While the Budget maintains existing levels of service to our community, it also includes several new initiatives, including the complete rebuilding of the Ringwood Aquatic Centre into a new $48 million leisure facility. This project, the largest in the history of the City of Maroondah and its predecessor councils, will deliver a a new level of facilities within the municipality, accommodating diving, swimming, fitness and recreational water usage. The new Aquatic Centre will reinforce Ringwood’s status as Central Activities District and demonstrate that Council is committed to a vibrant, sustainable and accessible urban centre.
In addition, Council will undertake a structure plan for Heathmont, to protect the amenity of the area and provide certainty for the community in regard to developmental pressures. Furthermore Council will be undertaking an assessment of community facilities, which will be completed by October. This assessment will make it easier to identify the availability of community facilities for groups within the community, as well as any shortages of space.
The median rate increase has been estimated at $1.88 per household and while no one likes raising rates, it is critical that we have a Council that has the capacity to deliver positive outcomes for the community both now and into the future. The Draft Budget delivers a financially sustainable and socially responsible municipality and I encourage the Maroondah community read through these documents.