Baw Baw Shire Council has announced plans for its 2022-23 Budget, with a focus on growing infrastructure and services to the growing community.

Baw Baw Shire Mayor, Michael Leaney, said Council will continue to work to deliver infrastructure that supports the needs of its community.

“We know that our Shire is growing quickly and that we lack a lot of the vital community infrastructure and services that our metropolitan counterparts have – such as future-proof dynamic libraries, functional community hubs, arts and culture spaces, and multi-use sporting facilities that cater for all ages in all weather conditions,” Mayor Leaney said. 

“That’s why we’re continuing to invest in these multi-generational projects – we will set Baw Baw Shire up for a healthy, sustainable, connected and thriving future for now and generations to come.

“Council has received feedback from community groups and the development sector. We know there are things we can do better. We are acting on that feedback. The proof is in this budget.” 

Infrastructure budget: $41.78 million
$14.32 million will be invested in progressing major strategic projects to build a more sustainable, connected Baw Baw Shire. 

These key strategic projects include vital community infrastructure, facilities and services that are responsive to the Shire’s growing and changing needs. They are either new projects that deliver facilities the Shire currently lacks or provide significant upgrades to those it has outgrown – but either way benefit current and future generations.  

These projects often require staged delivery over multiple years and are subsidised by funding grants provided by other levels of government. 

Road budget: $11.21 million
Baw Baw Shire Council will continue its major investment in improving its 1,823km local road network.

  • $2 million for the Road Reconstruction Program which will address the road condition on Weerong Road, Drouin between Wellwood Road and Longwarry Road (Stage 2) and Saleyards Road, Trafalgar between Waterloo Road and Contour Road
  • $1.8 million to seal approximately 3,000m2 of unsealed sections of road
  • $1.8 million to prepare and reseal over 200,000m2 of roads
  • $1.6 million for localised pavement repairs to patch and improve the ride quality of approximately 20 roads across the Shire
  • $1 million towards road safety improvements on Bona Vista Road, Warragul, Lardners Track, Warragul, Burke Street, Warragul, Mills Road, Warragul, McNeilly Road, Drouin, Binbeal Road, Drouin and Normanby Street, Warragul. (Noting some works are subject to successful grant funding)
  • $280,000 towards accessible parking improvements including the reconstruction of DDA compliant pedestrian ramp to the car park on Albert Street, Warragul 

New resources and initiatives: $1.19 million
Baw Baw Shire Council is amongst the fastest growing regional areas in Victoria. The extraordinary rate of development presents significant planning challenges, both in managing application processing times, and in managing the tensions between the real need for housing development and the desirability of lifestyle and environment that Baw Baw has to offer.  

These challenges are heightened by a COVID-impacted labour market and a shortage of skilled planners. 

Council’s 2022-23 Annual Budget includes decisive steps to address these challenges.  

Under recently appointed Director Planning and Development, Leanne Hurst, Council is refreshing and refocusing planning services, implementing new resources and initiatives to deal with backlogs, enhance customer service, communication with applicants and attention to timeframes.   

This investment includes but is not limited to:  

  • A Senior Strategic Planner to provide additional resourcing within the Strategic Planning team
  • A DCP and Subdivision Officer to provide greater capacity in Priority Development and expand the delivery capability of the current service
  • Strategic Planning Administration to provide enhanced administrative support to the strategic planning service
  • An Open Space Planner to provide for the planning and provision of open space assets
  • A Targeted review of PSP specific provisions to engage a Traffic Engineer to review of the cross sections in both PSPs and assess its suitability
  • A Significant Vegetation Protection Project identifying significant vegetation throughout the municipality that would warrant protection through the Baw Baw planning scheme
  • Environmental Planning Officer to enable the internal planning referral function to meet increased number of planning applications, to ensure increased response times for environmental assessments
  • An IT upgrade for Statutory Planning of $30,000 to enhance processing efficiencies by upgrading workflow programs and integrated systems 

Implementation of the new resources and initiatives will be phased in over the 2022/23 financial year. 

Key strategic projects: $69 million

Over the next ten years, Council through its Long Term Infrastructure Plan intends to invest over $69 million in further major strategic capital projects. 

Council will continue its commitment to advocacy and lobbying the State and Federal Government for continued investment in these vital strategic projects for the growing region. 

Baw Baw Culture and Connection Precinct: $6.5 million

Valued at $30 million, Stage 1 of this project includes the construction of a new three-storey library and learning facility with cultural and learning spaces, community meeting rooms and co-working spaces, a rooftop terrace, café and connections to the Warragul township, surrounding West Gippsland Arts Centre and Civic Park. 

Council has made a commitment of $10 million to this project. $3.5 million has been secured from the Victorian Government’s Growing Suburbs Fund to enable the design and early works to proceed. Council is advocating to all levels of government to secure the remaining $16.5 million required to fully fund this project. 

Warragul Leisure Centre Indoor Stadium Expansion: $4 million 

Valued at $10.16 million, this project will see expansion of the existing indoor stadium from two to four courts to better service increased demand of indoor sports in Baw Baw Shire. The project is jointly funded by Council and the Victorian Government through its Community Sports Infrastructure Stimulus Program, with completion estimated in mid-2023. 

 Rokeby-Noojee Trail Stage 1: $1.5 million 

Valued at $4 million, Stage 1 of this project will upgrade the popular trail from Rokeby to Crossover, connect existing trails and missing links between Crossover and the Apex lookout in Neerim and include for preparatory works for a future extension to the northern end to Noojee. 

Council is awaiting the outcome of a funding application to the Victorian Government to support Council’s contribution to this project. 

Future stages of the project will aim to extend the trail to create a link to the historically significant Noojee Trestle Bridge and historic township of Noojee.  

Multi-use Pavilion at Bellbird Park East: $2.17 million 

Valued at just over $4 million, this project includes construction of a new multi-use sporting and community pavilion for users of the eastern section, including hockey, soccer, cricket, local schools, and the general community. Designed as a multi-use facility, the pavilion will also be equipped to host community events with commercial kitchen facilities, audio visual equipment, flexible room configurations, good access and a new car park.  

The project seeks to integrate all the sporting clubs on site and provide additional space that can be used by the whole community. The project is jointly funded by Council and the Victorian Government via the Growing Suburbs Fund with completion estimated in mid-2023. 

Mayor Leaney said Council has a great team of planners, engineers, technical experts and administrative support. 

“They are facing an extraordinary volume of planning requests in a challenging development environment,” Mayor Leaney said. 

“The challenges are real and it will take some time to implement these changes and for the differences to be felt on the ground. But ultimately this investment is aimed at realistic improvement and a better customer experience over time.”   

To learn more about the Annual Budget 2022/23 and all the investments Council is making to build a better Baw Baw in the year ahead, visit 2022-23 Annual Budget.  

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