Southern Peninsula News 7 April 2020

Page 7

NEWS DESK

Budget put off balance by virus Keith Platt keith@mpnews.com.au ALTHOUGH caught in the midst of unprecedented economic uncertainty, Mornington Peninsula Shire has released its proposed 2020/21 budget for public comment. Property rates will rise by 2 per cent, in line with a cap imposed by the state government, providing the shire with $191.6 million towards an overall predicted income of $244.9m, $8m less than the previous year. Rural living rates will drop by 6 per cent. The budget does not include any of the ongoing and extensive measures being taken by the shire to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 (“Crisis backing for business” The News 31/3/20). The ultimate involvement by the shire is unknown and the state Opposition has called on councils to offer rate relief “to distressed households right now”. “Councils must also give thought to a complete rate freeze for this financial year, to assist everyone with this significant cost burden,” local government spokesperson Tim Smith said. “But the state government must help councils with any loss of revenue so that the important role of councils can continue uninterrupted during these unprecedented times.” Mr Smith said municipalities were responding to COVID-19 pandemic

“through emergency management provision”. “With many businesses reducing in size or going into hibernation, and employees and sole traders transitioning to the federal government’s JobKeeper or JobSeeker programs, the burden of councils’ rates on ratepayers will become increasingly onerous for many Victorians. “One of the most important initiatives the state government could make to support vulnerable Victorian households would be to fund rate relief.” Cr Hugh Fraser has already warned of how dealing with the pandemic is likely to hit the shire’s bottom line (“Free food plan as virus hits home” The News 23/3/20). He said it was reasonable to expect state and federal governments to slow their payment of grants and to expect rates to go follow a similar pattern, both affecting cash flows. These negative impacts on the shire’s finances could mean that had to borrow money to meet demand for “our home and community service delivery”. Cr Fraser said the COVID-19 emergency could lead to a significant downturn in economic activity “over perhaps 18 months”. Submissions on the proposed 2020/21 budget close 23 April and will be considered at council’s 6 May meeting. The proposed budget can be viewed at www.mornpen.vic.gov.au (search for proposed budget 2020/21).

Distancing in the wind

APART from motorists, dog walkers, joggers and a few cyclist were the main people keeping their distance during Sunday’s gale force winds. The beaches were no longer closed (except to groups of people), but nature has its own way of thinning crowds. The rock “wall” constructed to protect Portsea beach was certainly breaking the waves before they hit the shore (top), while just a few kilometres down the road Camerons Bight was more sheltered, making for a peaceful beach walk and stroll along the jetty. Pictures: Keith Platt

Library reaches out to offer social connection MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire library staff have created online opportunities to read, watch, learn and have fun. A social hub on its website features activities for those spending more time at home. Links connect to such things as the Social Distance Festival, which publishes a calendar of free online concerts, plays, readings and live theatre performances from around the world. The hub offers those working from home links to training and resources to help move and improve businesses online. The hub also has wellness advice and ideas for keeping children busy. New content is uploaded regularly and school holiday competitions include writing a letter to the Easter Bunny and writing a dog story. Entries are open now. There are stories, songs and crafts livestreamed on Facebook, 11am, Tuesdays and

Thursdays for younger book lovers. Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery has created online art and craft activities for children, including videos by artist-educator Jill Anderson. Adults looking for a hobby or a new skill can access a range of free online courses covering business, computing/IT, and creative subjects. Creativebug has thousands of award-winning art and craft video classes taught by design experts and artists. Both services are available for free to library members. An extensive range of online books, e-magazines, e-talking books and videos are available free to members. Joining the library is easy. Complete an online form and receive membership and pin numbers to use online. The library is open for phone or online inquiries 9am-5pm weekdays and Saturdays 9am-2pm.

WHERE do the children play? Not in unsanitised playgrounds, but possibly online. Picture: Keith Platt

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THIRSTY CAMEL BOTTLE SHOP OPEN Southern Peninsula News

8 April 2020

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