The 2018/19 Benalla Budget is available for view and comment
The 2018/19 Benalla Budget is available for ratepayers and interested parties to view and comment on, but there is only a little more than two weeks to do so as council are looking to adopt the budget in full by Wednesday June 27th.
When council put the Benalla City budget on display they promoted it as a cost cutting budget given the restrictions imposed on council by the State Government with rate capping.
CEO of the Benalla City Council, Tony McIlroy, says times are tight therefore the budget reflects cost cutting.
"It's pretty much business as usual, it's the 3rd year of our internally driven strategy adopted by the council back in March 2016 of reducing overheads in order to maintain service delivery in this rate capped environment. Things are very tight, we've had to become leaner as an organisation and we've offset that by reducing staff numbers and we're really managing our vacancies very tightly and we're in front the 9 month mark of the 2017/18 year".
Mr. McIlroy says expenses across the state are increasing at a greater percentage than income, so the budget is a continuation of a cost cutting strategy council put in place 3 years ago.
"Expenses are increasing on average across rural Victoria at the rate of 2%, whereas income is only increasing at the rate of 1% p.a, we have to maintain a fairly tight control over expenditure".
He goes on to explain the one area of expense is toward road maintenance which will be combined with a State Government commitment in the budget to fund roadworks regionally.
"The State Government has indicated in it's budget that they're going to allocate more funding for country roads, but it's getting harder and harder to stretch the dollars. But with the introduction of these programs from the State Government point of view, it will give us a bit more spending power".
The one form of income that hasn't been accounted for is the filming in the region of the latest Ned Kelly movie starring Russell Crowe.
Mr. McIlroy says it's a welcome announcement and apart from the opportunity it brings to individuals to play a part in the movie, it also provides a good source of income and will expose the Benalla Region to a wide audience.
"In terms of a tourist attraction it's a welcome announcement, we're not sure of the details at this stage. They haven't revealed, for instance, the exact filming locations, but one would presume the key one from Benalla's point of view is the Ned Kelly Stringybark Creek and Glenrowan features prominently in these times".
You can view the budget online, at library locations or at the customer service centre.