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Proposed Council budget focuses on restraint
April 17, 2024

A focus on roads, core services and emergency recovery headline Wellington Shire Council’s 2024/25 draft budget.

Released today and available for community feedback, this year’s draft budget forecasts a year of restraint - balancing cost pressures with providing the necessary local infrastructure and services that the local community needs and expects.

The 2024/25 capital works program will be $68.9 million, with $45.8 million funded from Council operations and $20.1 million from external grants and contributions. Roads, including annual road resealing and re-sheeting programs, have been allocated $21.1 million, while $5.6 million has been budgeted to bridges and drainage.

In addition to the capital works program, Council will spend a further $7.8 million in rural areas on regular roads maintenance programs, including roadside vegetation management, fire breaks, rural road reseals and drainage, and gravel roads.

Key road projects earmarked for the upcoming financial year include:

  • Duke Street, Yarram Reconstruction - $1.25M
  • Velore Road, Kilmany Reconstruction - $1.2M
  • Sale Toongabbie Road Stage 3 Reconstruction - $900K
  • Dargo Emergency Slip Rectification, Upper Dargo - $800K
  • Mills Street, Heyfield Rehabilitation - $750K
  • Sale Cowwarr Road Stage 2 Reconstruction- $600K
  • Glencairn Road, Licola Slip Rehabilitation - $600K
  • Heyfield Seaton Road Reconstruction - $600K

In terms of standout capital projects, Council has prioritised the development of the Sale Integrated Centre for Children and Families on Gibsons Road, with $5.575 million allocated over two financial years to its construction. The new centre will provide a combined 122 new childcare and kindergarten places, multi-purpose consulting suites, and meeting and activity spaces for early childhood services and community use.

The continuation of the Aqua Energy Redevelopment has been allocated $16.796 million during the next financial year, and amongst other things, will result in a new indoor pool with revised depth profile and entry ramp, upgraded changeroom facilities, 24-hour gym access and a zero-depth water play area.

Like most, Council’s expenses have been marked up by inflation, but revenue is restrained by the rate cap of 2.75% (as set by the Victorian Government) and slowing operational grant income from state and federal funding sources.

In light of these external influences, Council is holding back in additional expenditure by determining local priorities and making some hard choices in a constrained funding environment.

Wellington Shire Council Mayor Ian Bye said councils right across Australia were feeling the pinch - particularly across regional and rural areas, where cost pressures compound.

“Wellington Shire’s population of 45,600 is spread across 10,900 square kilometres - compared with Victorian metropolitan counterparts, which average more than 147,000 residents across 66 square kilometres,” he said.

“This causes challenges when it comes to calculating how to continue funding more than 140 Council services, while maintaining the geographically third largest shire in Victoria.

“It’s becoming harder to tender for big projects and infrastructure, because it's costing more than it ever has. That’s why it was so important this year we compiled a responsible budget that returned to delivering on core services.”

Council is also navigating federal and state cost shifting, where programs or service responsibilities are transferred to local government with insufficient funding, or grant opportunities are inconsistent with actual delivery costs incurred by councils.

Community trust in government relies on governments working together, and Council is committed to finding solutions that work for all levels of government. Council is working hard to obtain funding from both the state and federal governments to ensure all costs are not borne by the ratepayer.

The draft 2024/25 budget and information on how to make submissions are available via

Written submissions can be made until Monday 6 May. For more information about the draft budget phone the Customer Service team on 1300 366 244.

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