The Mirror News

Shire adopts 2023/24 budget, 10-year financial plan

SOUTH Gippsland Shire Council adopted its Annual Budget for 2023/24, plus its Financial Plan 2023/24-2032/33, and the 2022-2026 Council Plan’s initiatives for 2023/24, at the open meeting held in Leongatha on Wednesday, June 28, 2023.

The Shire’s Mayor, Cr Nathan Hersey, formally moved to adopt the budget, plan and initiatives, seconded by Cr Sarah Gilligan, with the subsequent unanimous backing of the other councillors, except for Cr Claire Williams who was on approved leave.

“This year’s Annual Budget is a financially responsible document,” Cr Hersey said.

“The 3.5 per cent rate cap [imposed on all councils by the Victorian Government] is well below the level of inflation,” he said.

“A lot of deliberation and extensive community engagement went into this Budget, and no doubt further financial challenges will arise.”

Cr Hersey noted the allocation of $400,000 towards the Shire’s road network, including re-sheeting, priority road sealing design, and roadside vegetation and weed management.

In addition he cited the $155,000 in the Budget for planning initiatives to support sustainable growth in the municipality, such as implementing actions from the Coastal Strategy and the South Gippsland Planning Scheme Review.

Progressing planning controls in Nyora, assisting South Gippsland’s people through the development of Community Plans, and ongoing funding support for the Live4Life program, have also attracted funding.

“The $36.83 million in the 2023/24 Budget for this financial year’s capital works program is a substantial amount for a council of our size,” Cr Hersey said.

Mentioned in the Budget is a raft of capital works projects, such as revitalised streetscapes in Korumburra and Venus Bay, and refurbishing the rail precincts in Leongatha and Korumburra into new community areas.

Preparation of a strategic business plan for Coal Creek Community Park and Museum at Korumburra, in partnership with the community, is included in this year’s Budget, too.

“The Annual Budget carefully balances the needs of our local community with the delivery of services, investment in capital works and key initiatives,” he said.

“Local government faces many challenges, particularly in regional areas, having to deliver more with less and the effects of inflation flowing through.

“It is more important than ever for Council to be in a financially strong position to absorb as much as unexpected costs as possible,” Cr Hersey said.

“This Budget maintains our sound financial position while also delivering and progressing outcomes that are important to our community and, together with the Long-Term Plan, are the foundations for the Shire’s success.”

Cr Gilligan described the Budget as “balanced but not boring”, adding that its contents “grappled admirably with competing interests”.

She went on to mention the Budget’s inclusion of the forthcoming internal review of the Shire’s differential rate system.

Cr John Schelling congratulated the Shire for the community consultation process conducted prior to the release of the Budget, one facet of which resulted in the reduction of court hire fees for the Leongatha Basketball Association “after 20 years”.

Cr Mohya Davies said the Budget was “restricted … in a restricted climate” and that the amount of work undertaken by the councillors and the Shire staff to achieve such a “sensible and responsible” Budget had “been absolutely massive”.

“What jumps out to me is the $180,000 for strategic planning, which will help guide what our community will look like in the future,” she said.

“This includes our Coastal Strategy, the Paths and Trails Strategy, the Great Southern Rail Trail Management and Marketing Plans, and the South Gippsland Visitor Marketing Plan.

“Some of these plans are prescribed, as the Victorian Government tells us we must do them, and an example is our Water Management Plan, for which we are partnering with South Gippsland Water,” Cr Davies said.

“We have been required to make some difficult decision, and we know there will be people asking, ‘why isn’t my town, my project, being funded?’.”

To see South Gippsland Shire Council’s 100-page 2023/24 Annual Budget and its 41-page, 10-year Financial Plan 2023/24-2032/33 online, go to


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