Northern Grampians Shire Councillors have voted to pass the council's 2022-23 budget at a meeting in St Arnaud on June 27.
Key features of the $36.4 million budget include funding for lifestyle and community services, such as children's services, and upgrades to various public parks across the municipality.
The budget will also see the introduction of a floating differential rating system, outlined in the council's Rating and Revenue Plan 2021-24.
Northern Grampians Shire Council mayor Tony Driscoll said the system would be implemented across a four-year period and should see a fairer and equitable spread of rates across the community.
"Council cannot, unfortunately, control what has been happening to farm and residential valuations as these are set by the Victorian Government's valuer general," he said.
"We can however abide by the government's rate cap by applying a floating differential model that will reduce the impact of year-on-year rates variations affected by spikes in property values."
The change comes after campaigning from farmers in the area to address leaping rate rises for rural properties of up to 15 to 20 per cent.
Cr Driscoll acknowledged community concern on the issue of farming rates, and said whilst the farming rate differential would not return to its historical low, the latest iteration of the budget aimed to ease the burden on Northern Grampians farmers.
"We understand that the farming sector would like us to return to a historical average of 32.5 per cent for the farm category but this needs to be implemented in a staged way otherwise other categories of rate payers will be adversely affected," he said.
"Budgets are always balancing acts which require us to adhere to government legislation and manage the expectations of our ratepayers and the services our community expects.
"This budget is taking a long-term view and aims to be as fair and equitable as possible while still allowing us to meet our goals and release some long-awaited projects."
Of the total budget allocation, $12.4 million will go towards community services, such as $1.6 million for children's services, $1.4 million for community care, $1.1 million for leisure services and $488,000 for maternal and child health.
Other expenditure highlights included further improvements to North Park and Lord Nelson Park, the refurbishment of the Stawell Library and clubroom upgrades at the Great Western Recreation Reserve and Central Park.
While you're with us, you can now receive updates straight to your inbox from the Stawell Times-News. To make sure you're up-to-date with all the news from across the region, sign up here.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.