Today is the last day to comment on the 2018-19 Greater Shepparton City Council draft budget.
This year’s budget is a big one.
In part because the capital works program proposed for next year clocks in at about $10million more than this year’s.
This is in no small part due to a couple of major projects getting starting and progressing: namely the new Shepparton Art Museum and Cosgrove Three Landfill.
The council has in recent years been making efforts to improve the accessibility of the budget.
It has reduced in size, been laid out more accessibly, while online submissions have become easier to make and in-person consultation sessions opened up for anyone interested.
This is all aimed at increasing the level of engagement ratepayers have with the council and its operations.
The number of submissions to the budget fluctuates, and often has a bit to do with whether a high-profile line item has garnered a level of interest or been campaigned for.
But broadly speaking, it is increasing.
This is positive.
The extent to which the budget is likely to be re-worked, while possible on paper, seems fairly limited in practice.
Changes are likely to made to the inclusion of smaller and medium-sized capital projects or for priorities to be shifted from one year’s long-term capital program to another.
But even with larger projects and broader strategic directions, feedback and commentary is welcome and hopefully helps the budget-drafting process for the following financial year.
It remains one of the better opportunities to inform councillors how you think they should approve or disapprove of the city’s spending.
While the process is still not perfect, without telling the council how it should or should not spend the city’s money when the opportunity is available, it’s then difficult to criticise strategic decisions on spending further down the line.
In the final hours before submissions close at 5pm, we encourage anyone who has a view as to how the council allocates your money to have a read and submit your views.
We also ask that councillors seriously consider the feedback offered in determining changes.
As far as inviting bedtime reading goes, much like its state and federal counterparts, the council budget is anything but a page turner.
But if you want to have input in where the rates you pay the council goes, there is no better time of the year than now to have your say.
The News hears no shortage of salient views on all manner of projects the council includes in its spending or overlooks each year.
If you have some time today, be sure to have your voice heard.