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Council’s new budget delivers essential infrastructure and services

24 June 2015

Yarra City Council has adopted its $159 million budget for 2015/16 bringing benefits to residents and ratepayers following extensive community consultation and engagement.

In a capital works budget of $40.5 million the centrepiece is $8.3 million to fund the first stage of the much-anticipated $14.5 million North Fitzroy Library and Community Hub. Other capital works included in the budget are $7.3 million for roads, footpaths and drains and $2.9 million for more than 30 parks and open spaces projects.

Council has committed $642,000 to redevelop the Yarra Community Youth Centre, $450,000 on upgrades to Williams Reserve in Richmond, $350,000 to improve customer service technology at Yarra Libraries, $225,000 to support the continued operation of the Fitzroy Adventure Playground and $70,000 for Communities that Care, a program addressing the needs of 8 to 12 year olds.

The budget also provides $1.9 million for community grants to support the valuable contribution the strong, diverse and active not-for-profit sector in Yarra makes to our local community.

Yarra Mayor Cr Phillip Vlahogiannis said in adopting the budget Council was seeking to address the aspirations of the community as well as to ensure appropriate investment in essential services and facilities.

“As responsible custodians of the municipality, we were conscious to contain the rate increase without compromising Council’s ability to respond to ongoing pressures of our growing and evolving, busy inner-city municipality,” Cr Vlahogiannis said.

“Such pressures include the pace of housing development and population growth in Yarra, which in turn increase demand for services and facilities, particularly for community buildings, traffic management, pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, open space and parking management,” he said.  

Cr Vlahogiannis said a number of new items were added to the budget following extensive community consultation, which resulted in 94 submissions to Council. New initiatives include:

  • $225,000 for the Fitzroy Adventure Playground (Cubbies), which provides activities for hundreds of children from the Atherton Gardens Housing Estate
  • $103,000 for an urban agriculture facilitator position that is intended to help residents establish community gardening projects
  • $25,000 to the Collingwood Basketball Association to undertake a feasibility study to build additional basketball courts at Collingwood College (conditional on commitment from the Department of Education and Training and Sport and Recreation Victoria)
  • $7,500 to support the Garage Sale Trail event in Yarra.

Cr Vlahogiannis said funding for these projects demonstrated Council’s commitment to listen to, and to respond to the needs of, our community.

“We received passionate submissions on a range of issues that are important to our residents,” Cr Vlahogiannis said.

“We encouraged the community to have their say, we listened, and we took that feedback on board,” he said.

Other projects proposed in the original draft budget were adopted without changes.

A full copy of the adopted 2015/16 budget will soon be made available on the Council Budget webpage.

Budget at a glance

  • $159 million total operating expenditure budget.
  • $40.5 million capital works program (including carried forward projects $6.4 million).
  • $0.93 million in new initiatives and $1.9 million for community grants.
  • 4.5% increase in general rates, which is consistent across the municipality for all ratepayers as this year is not a ‘revaluation year’.
  • 6.25% increase in the rate rebate for pensioners (from $160 to $170 per annum). ]

Budget highlights

  • $8.3 million in funding to commence construction of the North Fitzroy Community Hub
  • $642,000 to redevelop the Yarra Youth Community Centre
  • $7.3 million for roads, footpaths, drains, tree root management and retail shopping strips including $400,000 for local area traffic management.
  •  $2.9 million for Parks and Open Spaces (more than 30 projects across Yarra), including:
    • $485,000 for stage one of a ramp and shared pathway linking Coulson Reserve to Merri Creek path (funded through open space contributions provided by developers)
    • $275,000 for a new open space agreement with local schools which will improve out-of-school-hour access to open spaces in neighbourhoods currently lacking a local park (funded through open space contributions provided by developers)
    • $350,000 to improve customer service and management of Yarra Libraries through stage 2 implementation of Remote Frequency Identification Data (RFID) and self-checking technology
    • $170,000 for a revision of the Yarra Planning Scheme capturing community views on how the scheme can be improved to ensure better outcomes for Yarra
    • $80,000 funding contribution to Yarra Energy Foundation’s program to provide LED retrofits and a residential solar program to reduce energy consumption
    • $30,000 for Emergency Management  heat wave support for vulnerable people.
    • $25,000 for the Room to Create arts program which aims to keep the arts in Yarra by supporting eligible artists and arts organisations and fostering more affordable and sustainable creative spaces
    • $25,000 towards Yarra’s arts and heritage collection.

Further information
Philip Mason
Manager - Finance
9205 5449



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