Focus on cycling- Indigo Shire draft budget

Indigo Shire Council has allocated $275,000 towards the Rutherglen Skate Park in the 2022/23 draft budget.

Cycling infrastructure remains a key focus for Indigo Shire Council as indicated by the 2022/23 draft budget now on public exhibition.

Council will spend $2.86m on cycling developments, including $493k to commence the Rutherglen Wine Walk Cycle Trail which has attracted $5.1m in Federal Government grant funding.

The draft budget includes $16.7m in capital works, made up of $7.6m in new project allocations and $9.1m in projects already funded but are being carried forward into 2022/23.

“A significant portion of the carry forward funds is associated with the completion of large multi-year grant-funded projects including the Chiltern Community Hub, Beechworth to Yackandandah Rail Trail and the EPIC Mountain Bike trail,” Mayor Bernard Gaffney said.

“We’re proposing to spend $2.5m on maintaining and upgrading the shire’s roads, bridges, pathways and drains and we plan to spend almost $1m on maintaining our parks and gardens. The draft budget also includes over $500k for trees, which includes replacement and new plantings.”

It is proposed that residential rates be increased by 1.75% (Victorian Government rate cap) and increases in fees and charges be generally in line with the rate increase.

In creating the draft budget, Indigo Shire Council sought community input earlier in the year through an online survey.

The survey also included a number of open-ended questions, providing respondents with the opportunity to provide more detail. A total of 311 survey responses were received, with the majority coming from Rutherglen (33.23%), Beechworth (24.52%), Chiltern (14.84%) and Yackandandah (10%).

When asked which categories council should prioritise, 53.7% of respondents said drainage, kerb and gutter, followed by footpaths (45.66%), parks, open space and streetscapes (45.02%), community facilities (42.12%) and sealing of roads (46/98%).

Council noted the big increase in survey responses from Rutherglen residents following the January storms, with an overwhelming number of requests to comments relating to drainage issues in the town.

Respondents were also asked to identify any areas of current spending or service delivery that could be reduced or no longer delivered. The responses to this question were cycle trails (and associated infrastructure) and cycling tourism.

Cr Roberta Horne was the only councillor not to endorse the budget, expressing concerns about the total funding on cycle paths.

“We need to get better at balancing the desires of a small group of people who want to participate in free recreational activities whenever they wish against the everyday needs of our ratepayers who seek, as a minimum, a safe environment in which to live, affordable housing and a secure job,” Cr Horne said.

“As a small municipality I believe we should have the flexibility to respond to the extenuating and ongoing circumstances we face. And yet here we are perpetuating plans that see us delivering a budget that assigns only $482k to footpaths across the whole shire and $2.86m to cycle tracks.

“I’m sorry but I’m adding a serving of squashed avocado to my labelling of last year’s budget as a ‘Lycra and Latte’ budget.”

In presenting the draft, Mayor Gaffney said council has worked hard to deliver a budget that meets the targets set in its Long-Term Financial Plan and keeps council sustainable, not just for the next 12 months, but for the next ten years.

The draft budget is one of a suite of strategic documents that council has endorsed and placed on exhibition for the next three weeks.

Any person wishing to make a submission on the Draft Budget or other strategic documents should address their submission to the CEO, to be received by 5pm on Tuesday 7 June. Submissions can be sent to or by mail to PO Box 28, Beechworth 3747.

Submissions to the draft budget will be heard at a Special Meeting of council on Tuesday, June 14 2022.

Council will then consider all submissions at the Ordinary Meeting of council on Tuesday, June 28.

Key areas of spending in Rutherglen and Wahgunyah for the 2021/22 year include:

•$128,000 towards Traton Street Footpath (Wahgunyah)

•$493,000 towards the Rutherglen Wine Walk Cycle Trail

•$370,000 towards drainage improvements shire wide - priority projects to be determined from review of recent flooding events

•$10,000 towards Wahgunyah Drainage Design

•$275,000 towards Rutherglen Skate Park Project

•$50,000 towards upgrading the Rutherglen Preschool Building outdoor shade sail area

•$90,000 towards New K&C and drainage works in High Street - south of Ready Street

•$70,000 towards footpath Audley St to Rail Trail reserve then through to Douglas Street Rutherglen