Budget plan angers Moorabool councillors

Several Moorabool councillors have slammed the council’s 2017-18 draft budget, arguing their communities have been short-changed.

The council has allocated $15 million in the draft budget for its capital works program, including $5 million on improving roads across the municipality. Rates will rise an average of two per cent, in line with the state government cap.

The budget includes $50,000 for the Ballan Recreation Reserve masterplan, $50,000 for a Moorabool aquatic and splash park strategy and $25,000 for a traffic management study of Bacchus Marsh.

But Woodlands ward’s Pat Toohey told last week’s council meeting the draft budget failed to recognise some of the significant issues facing small towns.

“The Greendale community, for example, is one of our largest small town communities, yet they have no community facilities,” Cr Toohey said.

“A lot of people are using [the Greendale reserve] and the little block of toilets … does not cater to the needs of that community. We have to make priority decisions – what are the important things?

“We can no longer continue to ignore that community down there.”

He said better toilet facilities at one of the municipality’s major reserves should be “paramount”.

During a fiery debate, Central Moorabool ward’s Paul Tatchell criticised the draft budget, saying he would not approve it in its current form.

“Every time I want to do something for my community, it has to come out of my ward fund,” Cr Tatchell said.

“I’ve been bloody generous in this council for the past five years … my people don’t get a two per cent rate rise. I’ve got people who have 25 per cent, 20 per cent rate increases … I’ve got people in the township who get 11 and 12 per cent because they’re in some growth boundary. Being nice in here doesn’t work. Come to a council meeting … because they [council officers] don’t listen to me.”

Cr John Keogh argued an additional $50,000 should be allocated for planting trees across the municipality, while Cr Jarrod Bingham raised concerns that councillors weren’t given enough time to scrutinise the draft budget’s proposals.

Councillors Tom Sullivan, Pat Toohey and David Edwards voted in favour of the budget, with the mayor using his casting vote. Cr Tonia Dudzik was absent.

The draft budget, as well as the draft council plan, is available for comment until June 6.