The City of Whittlesea has adopted a Draft Budget for 2020-21 that considers the evolving COVID-19 challenges and impacts while delivering critical major projects and continuing services for the community.
In adopting the Draft Budget today (Thursday 16 April), Administrator Lydia Wilson said while COVID-19 continues to present challenges for the organisation and community, a clear path had been set for a strong and successful future.
“This responsible, balanced, Draft Budget is a great example of strong financial management and good governance practices that will help us respond and deliver for our community,” she said.
A $2 million COVID-19 Community Recovery Fund is proposed, which will be co-designed with local businesses, sporting clubs, community groups and residents.
“This will be a great opportunity for our organisation and community to work together and navigate how we recover from this unprecedented time in world history that has shaken our economy, disrupted the way we work, and stalled people’s day-to-day lives,” Ms Wilson said.
In preparing the Draft Budget, the City of Whittlesea has absorbed a significant portion of the increase in waste costs since the separate waste charge was introduced in 2018-19.
Disruptions in the global recycling processing market resulted in Council entering into a new contract arrangement for processing recyclable materials, which added $1.1 million to its costs.
Further, the State Government has increased the landfill levy by 30 per cent from last year, adding a further $1.28 million to Council’s costs.
“Despite these significant increases to our bottom line, we propose an increase of only 2 percent be added to the waste charge in 2020/21 so our residents are not burdened by covering the full extent of recycling and the huge rise in the landfill levy,” Ms Wilson said.
An $83.86 million capital works program will focus on improving roads, footpaths and bike paths; upgrading or building new community facilities; and building better parks and playgrounds.
“The Draft Budget for 2020-21 is aligned to the vision set out in the 2017-2021 Council Plan,” Ms Wilson said.
“We will continue to invest in roads renewal and rehabilitation programs, pathways to stations, disability access and traffic management initiatives around schools.”
Average rates in 2020-21 will increase by 2 per cent in line with the rate cap set by the Victorian Government under the Fair Go Rates System.
“The 2 per cent rate increase, which is lower than last year (2.5 per cent), is necessary to allow Council to continue building a better future for our community,” Ms Wilson said.
The Draft Council Plan for 2020-21 was also adopted today, enabling Council to continue delivering infrastructure services and facilities for its rapidly growing community.
The Draft Budget and Draft Council Plan will go on public exhibition from this Saturday 18 April until Friday 29 May 2020.
“We have provided an additional two weeks of consultation on both draft documents in recognition of the time we are in,” Ms Wilson said.
“We hope that Stage 3 social distancing measures imposed by the State Government may be lifted during this six-week consultation period to extend our engagement beyond what we will do electronically and allow people to view the documents in a public location such as the Council offices or local libraries.”
Once the consultation period concludes, submissions will be considered, and a Special Council Meeting will be held at 3pm on Thursday 25 June 2020 to adopt the Budget and Council Plan for 2020-21.
NOTE: The Victorian Government has provided councils with an option to extend the date to adopt the 2020-21 Budget from 30 June to 31 August 2020. The City of Whittlesea plans to adopt its 2020-21 Budget by 30 June, however, notes that some variation may be required as more about the financial impacts of COVID-19 is realised.
$11.86 million for services, programs and activities to enable older people to live
independently in their homes
$9.43 million for family and children services
$5.22 million for the regional library service (Thomastown, Mill Park, Lalor and Whittlesea)
$4.83 million for traffic management services including school crossings and community
$5.87 million for public health services and programs to protect and enhance community
health, safety and wellbeing
$2.22 million for local youth services
$13.05 million for Boundary Road works
$3 million to complete the Findon Road extension through to Plenty Road
$4.30 million to construct the Community Activity Centre - west of Epping Road
$3.29 million for Mernda Sports Hub - Mernda Recreation and Leisure Centre
$2.53 million upgrade for McLean’s Road kindergarten
$2.00 million to construct a kindergarten at Thomastown Primary School
$1.80 million for streetscape improvements at Lalor High Street shopping strip
$1.24 million for streetscape improvements at Thomastown High Street shopping strip
$2.03 million to complete the All Abilities Play Space at Mill Park Recreation Reserve
$1.41 million to upgrade playgrounds and general landscape
$1.10 million to implement the Whittlesea Public Gardens Masterplan