A Whittlesea councillor has opposed the council’s draft budget and two others have abstained from voting on it.

Cr Caz Monteleone voted against the draft budget at a special council meeting on March 26 amid concerns it would cause financial hardship, while councillors Ricky Kirkham and Alahna Desiato refrained from voting.

Councillors Mary Lalios and Norm Kelly were absent from the meeting.

The draft budget features a 2.5 per cent increase in the total amount of rates collected by the council. But waste charges will rise by an extra $14.50 in addition to the annual
3 per cent increase.

The council decided last year to separate its waste charges from general rates to protect itself from ongoing problems in the recycling sector.

Mayor Lawrie Cox said the proposed $14.50 fee was a result of the council losing $900,000 in revenue from “contractor purchasing” of recyclable materials.

“We held any rises for the first year and are not going to pass the full cost of this service on to our residents, but we do need to increase charges slightly this year to offset some of this,” he said.

Cr Monteleone said he was against the waste charge, as well as plans to raise leisure centre fees by 15.9 per cent.

He was also concerned about the council’s level of borrowing. It plans to borrow $17.84 million in 2019-20.

Council plans to spend $72.7 million on capital works, including $8.9 million to install signals at the intersection of Ferres Boulevard and Findon Road and $4.1 million for the construction of the Findon Road extension from Williamsons Road to Danaher Drive.

Cr Sam Alessi said these projects were essential.

“Traffic congestion is one of the items our community has raised concerns about a number of times,” he said.

“These projects will make a huge difference to east-west traffic in our municipality.”

The budget includes money to allow the council to rejoin the Municipal Association of Victoria and the Victorian Local Governance Association.

Residents can have their say on the budget until 5pm on Friday, April 26.

Details: whittlesea.vic.gov.au