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MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire residents could face a modest 3.9 per cent rates increase in the 2012-13 budget.
The draft budget - yet to be adopted by the council - is essentially a 'break even' budget, with an eventual surplus of $288,000 when funding for capital works was deducted, shire manager of finance Geoff Emberson said.
The proposed budget has $450,000 put side aside to absorb costs incurred from the federal government's carbon tax.
There is more than $400,000 for planning strategies for various projects, including a $50,000 management plan for the Tootgarook Wetlands, a $30,000 injection into a 10-year kindergarten strategy and $40,000 for a positive ageing initiative.
Mornington Peninsula Ratepayers and Residents Association president Alan Nelsen said: "The proposed rates rise is modest in comparison to the previous three years, including last year's increase of 6.8 per cent. It is interesting to see such a modest rates rise in an election year, but we are happy it has been significantly reduced from previous years."
Shire borrowing will be reduced by $4.3 million. Dr Nelsen said the proposed budget would go some way to reducing the shire's debt but he was concerned it was only a short-term measure.
"We are concerned about the debt that will occur with the construction of the Southern Peninsula Aquatic Centre. The council is reducing the debt now in order to borrow again for the pool in three years time.
''The amount they are borrowing for the pool will not be enough to pay for it in entirety so we are concerned about which other services are going to be cut in order to pay for the pool."
Dr Nelsen also noted that it was also a re-evaluation year for property. "The values at the higher end of the market have decreased so the lower end of the market in suburbs like Rosebud West are paying the difference.
''The 3.9 per cent rate rise only represents the average, so some property owners will be paying a lot more. Some ratepayers have seen a 35 per cent rates increase over the past three years."
On top of annual rates, property owners will also pay a $160 municipal charge - up $10 on the previous budget.
Mayor Frank Martin said it was a tight budget, within the limits of affordability in the current climate. "The council is very conscious of the current tight economic circumstances. Council rates this year will maintain the shire's position as having rate levels among the lowest in Victoria."
Frankston Council is considering a 9.4 per cent rates rise.
The 2012-13 draft budget is on public exhibition until June 26 and can be viewed on the shire's website at mornpen.vic.gov.au under 'on exhibition'. A community budget briefing will be held at the Mornington Peninsula Shire's Rosebud office at 7pm next Wednesday.