Neutral position: Shire budget aims for carbon neutrality by mid-2022

April 29, 2021 BY

The Surf Coast Shire council will become a certified carbon-neutral organisation through the federal government’s Climate Active program.

THE Surf Coast Shire council will be carbon neutral in just over a year in one of several environmental initiatives outlined in the council’s next budget.

Councillors resolved to endorse the draft report on the 2021-22 budget and release it for public comment at their meeting on Tuesday this week.

Shire mayor Libby Stapleton said she was proud the council would become a certified carbon-neutral organisation through the federal government’s Climate Active program.

“Accredited carbon offsets will be purchased to offset emissions from operations, services, facilities and work processes. The cost of carbon offsets will partly be funded from landfill
gate fees,” Cr Stapleton said.

“We will continue taking action to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, with the remaining residual emissions being offset. Council will be a certified carbon neutral organisation by the end of financial year 2021-2022.

“Council has taken a strong leadership position in responding to recycling challenges by introducing the new four-bin kerbside waste service earlier than the mandated requirements. Council will also prepare its long-term waste and recycling strategy to bring about a local and regional circular economy.”

The budget also extends the shire’s Towards Environmental Leadership program ($250,000), prepares the next section of the Anglesea landfill ($1.01 million), and will fund a business case for solar and energy savings at council sites ($375,000).

“This is the first budget of our recently-elected council,” Cr Stapleton said. “It has been carefully developed to meet the needs of our community, as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and look to a more positive future.”

She said the budget delivered on the council’s desire to promote greater inclusion and creativity.

“Council will continue to upgrade buildings to be accessible for everyone, introduce a trial of Auslan sign language at council meetings and events, continue its commitment to the Anglesea Arts Space and fund more public art in the shire,” Cr Stapleton said.

“This year we will also establish a role to help council to improve its engagement with Traditional Owners and support reconciliation.”

There is $28 million earmarked for capital works, with just over half ($14.5 million) to be spent on new projects, such as the Anglesea Netball Pavilion redevelopment (subject to a successful grant), renewal of Anglesea’s Coogoorah Park boardwalk, and works to support future activity at the former Winchelsea Shire Hall.

“There is $16.55 million for road upgrades, maintenance and renewal, and $400,000 for the council’s road safety program,” Cr Stapleton said.

She said the draft budget also had the missing funding to realise the Surf Coast Aquatic and Health Centre.

“Council had already resolved to contribute $5.25 million in the event that a funding application to the state government was successful, and it was.”

The draft budget includes this commitment as well as a further $500,000 to make up the full $39.25 million cost of the centre.

Rates will increase by an average of 1.5 per cent, the new maximum allowed under the Victorian Government’s rate capping regime.

The waste charges will also increase by 1.4 per cent to fund many of the environmental reforms.

To view the Draft Budget Report 2021-22, head to surfcoast.vic.gov.au/Budget or phone 5261 0600 to arrange a hard copy.

To make a submission to the draft 2021-22 budget and draft revenue and rating plan, head to the website or send a letter to Acting CEO Anne Howard, Surf Coast Shire Council, PO Box 350, Torquay, 3228.

Submissions must be received by 10am on May 26.