THE Loddon Shire Council has elected Neil Beattie as its mayor for the next 12 months.
Cr Beattie, who has served on the council for the past 15 years, was previously mayor in 2015 and 2016. He said he was excited to return to the role.
"We have a brand new council for another year," Cr Beattie said. "There were only two of us that were previous councillors.
Read more news:
"I just felt it was time that I made another bigger contribution. It's a pretty full-on job and I have semi-retired so I have more spare time, which is important if you want to do the job properly."
Cr Beattie said the COVID-19 recovery would be one focus of the council, but not the main focus.
"We are extremely financially strong," he said. "We have a lot of projects that are on the go.
"COVID has had an impact, but we're still delivering services and projects. That will start to ramp up in the new year as restrictions ease more, but outdoor projects have been pretty much unaffected.
"Meeting face-to-face and getting the gutsy stuff down is hard with virtual meetings. You don't get the same interaction on a screen as like in a room. But we have done really well."
Cr Beattie said the council's key projects included the Donaldson Park Sporting Complex in Wedderburn, the Boort sporting precinct, and the Pyramid Hill streetscape.
Cr Beattie said the council would also look to support businesses who were struggling due to coronavirus lockdowns.
"The law is the law and you have to abide by it," he said. "I thought the restrictions were pretty hard. They did a lot of damage to our cafes and pubs and tourism industry.
"We're going to have a lot of pain in the new year as these businesses try to get going again. We have the funds to help them and we hope they can struggle through, but it won't be easy."
Cr Beattie said he and other councillors would be the voice for residents.
"You don't take on this job if you're not willing to be called," he said. "In Loddon, we're a totally rural shire with great people and great tourist facilities."
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.