By Parker McKenzie
Yarra Ranges Council has signalled major spending on roads, bridges and walkways, and community buildings within the 2022/23 draft budget, while also expecting to finish with a surplus of just under $40 million.
After being announced at the 10 May 2022 Council meeting, the Draft Budget is now open for community engagement and submissions.
Yarra Ranges Mayor Jim Child said the budget would deliver significant progress on stages of the Yarra Valley Trail, Ridgewalk and the Warburton mountain bike destination.
“This year we’ll be taking big steps forward with our Ridges and Rivers projects across the Yarra Valley and Dandenongs,” he said.
“We’ll be hoping to finish Stage 1 of the Yarra Valley Trail, connecting the existing trail at Yering to Yarra Glen Station, while working on a Northern Loop of the trail that connects up.
“In the hills, we’ll be working on the first stage of RidgeWalk, which will be a 26km trail connecting towns and displaying the histories, cultures and artworks inspired by the Dandenong Ranges.”
The Ridgewalk, a 26km trail in the Dandenongs, has been allocated $1.9 million alongside further funding from the State and Federal Governments.
Council has also allocated 4.6 million for positive ageing services and $7 million for the maintenance and renewal of community buildings. Monbulk Reserve will receive $561,000 in funding for a stormwater harvesting system.
$86.4 million has been allocated towards council services, including $6.3 million for early year development, and early childhood education and care.
Rates for residents in the Yarra Ranges will increase by 1.75 per cent, in line with the State Government’s rate cap. Council is forecasting a $39.7 million budget surplus.
Mr Child said recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and the June 2021 storms would be part of the council’s plans.
“As we come up to one year since the 9 June storms and winter starts up again, we know that people may be feeling nervous and tense. We’re here to help, and please reach out to us if you need,” he said.
“Our Recovery Team will continue to help guide people through this recovery, working with our passionate community members so we can get through this together.”
$3 million has been allocated to recovery projects in the next year.
Community engagement with the budget closes on 7 June, with a special meeting of Yarra Ranges Council will be held on Wednesday 15 June to hear spoken submissions from the community.