Mayor Peter Maguire.
Mayor Peter Maguire. Meghan Kidd EME251113blueridge33

Basic services in Central Highlands to suffer deep cuts

SLASH the waste and inefficiency and don't hit drought-ravaged producers with huge rate rises - that's the message to the Central Highlands Regional Council from the region's ratepayers association.

Mayor Peter Maguire warned cuts to the capital and operational budgets (to be revealed on June 25) could be deep and at the expense of some basic community services.

"We are into our budget process and I can tell you that things are pretty grim for us too," Cr Maguire said.

CHRC Ratepayers' Association secretary Rex Kirk said with landowners battling low commodity prices and falling land values and businesses struggling, it recognised the council had problems but it could not drop the ball.

"For some, this drought is the worst they have ever seen," Mr Kirk said.

"It's going to be tough all round for the council to make things stack up, but we're saying we really cannot afford to pay more than the cost of

inflation."

CR Maguire said the council would do everything in its power to keep rates down.

"We're doing all we can to reduce the impacts on people, as far as rate impacts go," he said.

"We are aware that there are issues around service levels that we need to address but the less income we get, the less services available."

Following the State Budget announced on Tuesday, Cr Maguire said cuts would flow to local governments.

"There are certainly no surprises there (in the state budget), there's not extra funding for our region so we are aware of that," Cr Maguire said.

He said it was important for the community to remember there was not just one sector hurting in the Central Highlands.

"While we can all feel sorry for the resources sector or the agricultural sector, it's important to remember it flows on to small businesses being impacted," he said.

"Employees losing their jobs, or getting their hours cut back at work - whichever way you look at it, it is the people in households being impacted."

Isaac Regional Council said its budget will be released next month and take into consideration budget bids sent in by the community.

CEO Terry Dodds said he was pleased with the number of residents, who took the time to tell the council their priorities for the budget.

"Each community budget bid request is being carefully assessed by council for consideration in the 2014/15 budget," Mr Dodds said.

"Community members will be notified of the outcome of their budget bid requests."


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