News & Media Releases

Proposed Council Budget 15/16

15 April 2015

Proposed Council Budget 15/16

The community is invited to comment on Council’s proposed 2015-2016 Budget, on public exhibition until Wednesday 13 May 2015.

Yarra Mayor, Cr Vlahogiannis said the centrepiece of the proposed budget is $8.3 million to commence construction of the much-anticipated North Fitzroy Community Hub.  “This is vital community infrastructure – combining a library with other Council services – has been in the making for the better part of three decades”. 

There are also significant funds for community programs and buildings (including $642,000 to redevelop the Yarra Community Youth Centre), parks and open space, improving roads and footpaths, waste management, arts and culture and community engagement.

Cr Vlahogiannis said the proposed budget aims to meet the needs of Yarra’s growing population and to support our community’s aspirations for the City of Yarra as a unique place to live, work and create.

“Council had been conscious to contain the rate increase without compromising Council’s ability to respond to ongoing pressures of our growing and busy inner-city municipality”.

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

“The proposed 2015-16 budget is sound and responsible. It allows construction of the much-needed North Fitzroy Community Hub to commence; it funds capital works and new initiatives that will benefit our community; and, it also ensures the continued delivery of necessary services.  The proposed budget achieves this with a rate increase (4.5 per cent) that is lower than last year’s 5.4 per cent increase.    In the next month or so, we want to hear what our community thinks, before finalising the budget.”, Cr Vlahogiannis said.

Proposed Budget Highlights

  • $158.7 million total operating expenditure budget.
  • $40.5 million capital works program (including $6.4 million in carried forward projects).
  • $0.9 million in new initiatives and $1.9 million for community grants.
  • 4.5% increase in general rates, the impact of which will vary for each ratepayer depending on the relative change in their property value since the last revaluation in 2014.
  • 6.25% increase in the rate rebate for pensioners (from $160 to $170 per annum).

Capital Works Highlights

The proposed capital works program includes:

  • $18.3 million for Building projects, including:
  • $8.3 million to commence construction of the new North Fitzroy Community Hub;
  • $642,000 to redevelop the Yarra Community Youth Centre that responds to the needs and aspirations of young people and their families in Yarra.
  •  $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 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 two implementation of Remote Frequency Identification Data (RFID) and self-checking technology.

New Initiatives

The proposed budget also includes a number of other initiatives including:

  • $200,000 to manage special activity occasions (including New Year’s Eve and Australia Day, etc.) in public parks and reserves.
  • $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 and costs. $70,000 for the Communities That Care program which is a key action in Yarra’s Middle Years Strategy aimed at building capacity within communities to improve the healthy development of young children and young people.
  • $50,000 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.
  • $30,000 to develop a Biodiversity Health Strategy which is an action within the Yarra Environment Strategy.
  • $30,000 for Emergency Management  heat wave support for vulnerable people;
  • $20,000 to implement Yarra’s new Community Engagement program.

External budgetary factors

Once again this year, there are a number of mandatory State Government charges.  Among these is the Fire Services Property Levy which all Victorian Councils have been directed by the State Government to collect.  Although appearing on rates notices, this is not a Council charge for Council services, but a State levy. 

Another impact on Council’s budget (which affected all Victorian Councils) was the 2013 “top up” of the defined benefit superannuation liability (a scheme which pre-dated amalgamation).  Council opted to fund this liability and also fund the purchase of 345 Bridge Road, acquisition of the Connie Benn Centre operations and the energy performance contract under the Local Government Funding Vehicle (LGFV)  which requires funds to be set aside for repayment over 7 years. Further modelling of this loan liability will be undertaken regarding repayment flexibility to best serve Council’s future cashflow requirements.

For more information or to view the draft Budget document in full, visit the Council Budget webpage.

Public Consultation Period

Council encourages the community to provide feedback on the Proposed Budget.

Written submissions must be received by 5pm on Wednesday 13 May 2015 and can be posted to Grace Wong, Corporate and Financial Services, PO Box 168, Richmond VIC 3121 or emailed to Grace.Wong@yarracity.vic.gov.au

Council officers will be on hand to answer questions and listen to community feedback about the budget at the following information sessions:

  • Session 1: from 5.30–6.30pm Thursday 30 April, at Richmond Town Hall
  • Session 2: from 12–1pm on Wednesday 6 May, at Fitzroy Town Hall

Council will hear and consider submissions at a Special Council Meeting to be held at 6.30pm on Wednesday 20 May 2015 at Fitzroy Town Hall.

Council is then expected to adopt the Proposed Budget – with or without changes – at the Ordinary Council Meeting to be held 7pm on Tuesday 23 June 2015 at Richmond Town Hall.


 

 


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