Statement from the Mayor on Council’s Draft Budget and Proposed Waste Service Charge

Mayor Amanda StoneThis week, all Yarra residents and businesses will receive the latest Yarra News, with details of our draft Budget and Council Plan. Non-resident ratepayers will receive a letter outlining the proposed Budget and Waste Charge.

We know there will be many questions about all 3 documents but especially the proposed new Waste Charge.

Council has been very clear about being up front and transparent in proposing the waste charge and the reasons for it, and genuinely wants to hear feedback from the community on this proposal.

Whilst no-one likes a new charge, Yarra is one of only 6 of the 79 councils in Victoria which does not currently have a waste charge. This is not a new step for local government but it is new to Yarra.

Why now?

Yarra has a long and proud history of delivering on the 3 S’s in local government: high quality Services, Social Justice and Sustainability. We know from regular community feedback that our community values these things too. The draft Budget contains many wonderful projects that we know the community has been waiting for. Details are available at our Your Say Yarra project page.

However with the increased costs of providing services (for example waste charges have been increasing at 6.5%), cost shifting from other levels of government and a 2% rate cap, we are at a point where we face difficult decisions about how to balance the budget into the medium and long term for our citizens of the future. If we can’t increase our income, we will have to cut costs. Most costs are in labour and in the services we deliver. Reducing services is our less preferred option.

These decisions cannot be deferred although that might a be a popular move in the short term. A future council will only face the same, even more difficult decisions.

The council has decided to seek community feedback about the waste charge through the current consultation process.

Why not just cut costs?

The council organisation is continuing to find internal savings and efficiencies and are reviewing all the services council offers. This is something councillors and rate payers would expect and is an ongoing process.

However, if we are to be able to respond to new community priorities and emerging issues over time, we do need to improve the budget “bottom line” – one reason for proposing the waste charge.

Addressing the current budgetary situation now represents responsible management of public funds and good governance. I would not be in local government if I could not act ethically and responsibly and deferring these decisions is neither.

We genuinely want to hear from the community on the budget and waste charge proposal, along with alternative suggestions you might have. Many of us will be out on the streets to hear your responses. You can also attend one of the remaining public information sessions here:

  • Friday 21 April, 12–2pm at Studio One Community Hub, 15 Barnet Way, Richmond
  • Thursday 27 April, 6–8pm at Fitzroy Town Hall, 201 Napier Street, Fitzroy
  • Saturday 29 April, 10am–12pm, at Collingwood Senior Citizens Centre, Eddy Court, Abbotsford

Or make a submission online here: www.yoursayyarra.com.au/shape-yarra-future

Please take the time to read the budget documents carefully before providing your views on the draft and alternatives. And please get in touch if you have questions or would like to talk about the reasons for the proposed waste service charge.

Cr Amanda Stone, Mayor Yarra City Council

Amanda.Stone@yarracity.vic.gov.au

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