By Lachlan Ellis
Moorabool Shire residents have had their say on Council’s latest Proposed Budget, with submissions heard at the Wednesday 10 May Special Meeting.
Three members of the public addressed Council in-person on the Proposed 2023/24 Annual Budget, with five written submissions noted in Council’s agenda.
Dotty Hazell, Michael Hazell, and Scott Young addressed Council at the Special Meeting, with the former two speakers requesting a $10,000 commitment per year from Council for the volunteer-run Bacchus Marsh EasterFest, and the latter requesting an alteration to the rates differentials to prevent a spike in farmers’ rates.
“This is to help with approximately 50 per cent of the funds we require for the EasterFest to be run. This will help us expand the festival, allowing us to improve our promotional materials, do a bit of work to our website, and also help with the hire of the equipment, it’s getting quite expensive,” Mr Hazell said.
“EasterFest is run and supported by the local communities. It’s all volunteers, even the people who do all the performances. It’s really a community event. The festival is really a catalyst for a lot of the businesses, starting off and trying to get a name for themselves, and also for the community groups as well. A lot of them do performances on the day.
“All the profits we make go to the Bacchus Marsh Hospital and the urgent care. It could really help us to be able to get that funding, and grow the festival. We get between 5,000 and 10,000 people attending,” Mr Hazell concluded.
Mr Young, a Fiskville sheep farmer and President of the Victorian Farmers Federation’s Livestock Group, asked Council to consider lowering the rating differential for local farmers in the Budget.
“Our farmers are going to get rated out of the Shire. We’ve had significant rate rises every year for the past ten years, farmers have had rate increases of 85 per cent over the past three years. Farmers pay a significant amount of rates, but our income hasn’t increased as those rates have risen,” Mr Young said.
“Yes, our land values may have risen, but we can’t actually capitalise on those unless we sell our properties, and if we sell or properties, we’re not farming anymore. So, if we want to keep farmers within the Shire, we have to think of a better way of doing a budget, so we’re not forcing that big burden on our farmers.”
Mr Young spoke on behalf of the VFF, which submitted a recommendation including a Farm Rate of 0.154738, which would represent a 1.5 per cent rate increase for the average Farm Rate – far lower than the 16.84 per cent average increase expected.
Written submissions that were not submitted in-person included another call for equitable rate distribution for farmers, a request for increased footpaths in Darley, and an expression of disappointment that no Capital Works projects had been allocated in the Budget for the Spargo Creek/Korweinguboora area.
The motion to receive the residents’ submissions was unanimously approved by Councillors, with the Proposed 2023/24 Annual Budget to be voted on on Wednesday 17 May.