Council budget

Yarra City Council’s Budget 2023/24 delivers for community and paves the way to a financially sustainable future.

A woman runs along a path by the Yarra river

We are proud to present a Budget for 2023/24 that delivers key projects that our community wants and puts us on a path to a more financially sustainable future. By being smarter and more efficient in how we utilise funds, we can provide for both current and future residents for years to come.

Read the Budget for 2023/24

Community consultation

A Yarra staff member chats to a community member at a stall in a park

The Budget is largely informed by Yarra’s Council Plan 2021-25 and Community Vision 2036 – both developed in partnership with our community. In addition, we consult with the community every year when preparing our annual Budget.

We are grateful to everyone in the Yarra community who helped shape this year’s Budget. We heard from hundreds of people about their priorities and vision for the future during broad community consultations in November and December 2022, which helped shape the draft Budget; and from over a hundred more in April and May with their feedback on the draft Budget, which helped fine-tune the final version.

In total, over 3,000 people viewed our Your Say Yarra webpages for the Budget. We also promoted the Budget consultation through all of Yarra's communications channels including on our websites, social media, digital and printed newsletters; along with brochures, flyers, posters, postcards and other printed collateral.

We also held 14 in-person events and one online event to promote the Budget 2023/24 and explain the separation of the waste service charges across two stages of engagement. These events crossed almost every suburb in the municipality. Two dedicated youth events were held at the Yarra Youth Centre to capture feedback and comments from young people. A stakeholder webinar was also held to provide key community partners with information about the separation of waste service charges from general rates. Across these events we spoke to more than 500 people about their priorities for Yarra.

Delivering quality services for current and future residents

Yarra City Council prides itself on the quality, accessibility, and diversity of services we provide to the community. In addition to the services most Councils provide, Yarra offers community support programs including affordable childcare and disability services, and a broad range of fitness and leisure facilities and programs.

We know how much our community values the services we provide. That’s why we have worked hard to ensure there is no impact to service delivery in this year’s Budget. We are also committed to rolling service reviews to make sure our services meet the needs and level of quality our community expects.

Your rates at work

Our teams work around the clock to deliver essential services, from waste and recycling collections to maintaining our roads, parks, and open spaces to keeping our community healthy and safe.

Like all councils in Victoria, Yarra is facing challenges to our financial sustainability from rising cost pressures, rate capping and cost-shifting, along with increasing pressure and demand on our services and infrastructure from a rapidly growing population. This means the cost of providing services exceeds what we can collect through rates.

In order to ensure we can provide services to our community now and into the future, general rates will increase by 3.5%, in line with the 2023/24 rate cap implemented by the Victorian Government. The 3.5% cap does not apply to each individual’s rates bill but rather to the total amount we are seeking to raise from rates revenue. Find out more about how your rates are calculated.

In addition, as part of this Budget, Yarra Council has resolved to separate waste service charges from general rates to account for the increasing costs of waste and recycling services, in line with all other Victorian councils. This means the waste services charge will be removed from your general rates and charged as a separate line item.

We will continue to support community members through our Financial Hardship Policy and Pensioner Rebate.

A graphic depicting some of the community services that Yarra provides

A path to financial sustainability

Despite significant economic challenges, we have worked hard to deliver a Budget that ensures the continued provision of community services and delivers a projected Budget surplus of approximately $15 million. The surplus will help ensure we can deliver our capital works program (e.g. roads, footpaths, drains, buildings, parks and open spaces) from our existing reserves and avoid incurring new debt, so we can provide for residents now, and into the future.

Through a careful and considered process, we have engaged a range of cost-saving measures including adjusting our staffing allocation to hold staffing costs, cutting expenditure, and improving our planning processes for greater oversight of capital works delivery.

We know that financial sustainability is a long-term challenge. Yarra Council is committed to ongoing reviews to find additional savings and cost efficiencies across all Council operations including a rolling program of service reviews, reviewing capital works delivery management, tight expenditure control, reduction of debt, and the development of a long-term Financial Sustainability Strategy.

Delivering key projects for community

We have worked hard to fund projects that align with our Council Plan 2021-25 and Community Vision 2036 – both of which are developed in partnership with the Yarra community. That means smart, shovel-ready projects that deliver what our community wants.

Sustainability and a safe climate

Yarra Council is committed to doing our part to urgently mitigate climate change, adapt to its impacts and develop resilience, while supporting and encouraging local community, business and industry to do the same.

In this Budget, we are developing a new Climate Emergency Plan to ensure that Yarra’s policies, programs and projects align with the latest research, science and urgency to act, government policies, and our community’s expectations.

We will continue to roll out our successful Zero Carbon Business programs to support Yarra residents and businesses to reduce emissions by creating efficient, electric homes and businesses powered by renewable energy.

We are accelerating Yarra's Tree Planting program as a Natural Cooling Climate Emergency Response by increasing annual planting from 330 to 660 trees.

In our efforts to reduce landfill, we will commence preparatory work for the Food Organics Green Organics (FOGO) collection, including purchasing and distributing 40,000 bins and extensive community engagement.

We will also continue to provide education to the community on how to reduce waste and increase reuse and recycling.

A healthy and equitable community 

A young person leans over some artwork with a paint brush

It’s vital that everyone in the Yarra community has equitable access and opportunities to participate in community life, and feels empowered, safe and included.

We are also investing in promoting young people's voices and enhancing youth engagement and participation in decision-making and employment opportunities, with a focus on at-risk young people.

Additional support will be provided to establish a partnership with local health care providers, to provide an accredited mental health first aid program, for young people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds living in Yarra’s Public Housing Estates.

To make sure our libraries – vital community hubs for Yarra – are relevant, resourceful and accessible, we will be replacing library resources across all libraries and expanding the Open Library program for out of hours access.

A thriving local economy

Yarra’s neighbourhoods and major activity centres, nightlife and employment precincts are thriving, accessible and connected. They support and inspire diverse creative communities, cultural activities, businesses, and local employment. We are committed to keeping our local economy thriving.

The Budget 2023/24 provides ongoing support for local trader groups and associations in placemaking and precinct activations to keep the local economy thriving.

That includes funding for community street events and activations that celebrate the diversity and vibrancy of Yarra, like Lunar New Year and the Johnston St Fiesta.

We will continue to provide grants to local artists, businesses, organisations, and initiatives through our grants program.

Yarra’s jobs platform and our investments in promotional support will help local organisations, businesses and industries attract the staff and customers they need to thrive.

Public places, green and open spaces that bring community together

Three women in hijabs gardening in a community garden 

Yarra’s public places, streets and green open spaces bring our community together. They are planned to manage growth, protect our unique character, and focus on people and nature.

This Budget, we will create new parks and open spaces and upgrade existing with new park furniture, play and sports equipment, toilets and other amenities.

Design will commence on the Roads to Parks project to create a pipeline of new open spaces for our community to enjoy.

Improvements and upgrades to sporting facilities will be made including additional portable changerooms for the Yambla Street Pavilion to increase capacity for local football clubs, while a redesign of the existing pavilion is undertaken.

We will continue to roll out programs that protect and enhance Yarra's unique biodiversity, ensure Yarra’s environment is healthy and resilient and support our community to appreciate and connect with nature.

We will also continue to implement our community-led Local Liveable Streets initiative to turn our streets into liveable and dynamic spaces for the community.

Accessible, safe and well-connected transport and movement

This Budget, we will implement our Transport Strategy, to ensure Yarra’s transport network is accessible, safe and well connected for all road users, including pedestrians and cyclists.

Our ten year Transport Strategy will also improve accessibility for kids and people with a disability, while also aiming to reduce traffic on our local streets.

We will commence preparation and planning for the ‘New Deal for Schools’, a flagship transport program to increase the proportion of children walking, cycling and scooting to school, reduce school traffic and improve the school commute for families.

We will make a range of improvements across Yarra’s bicycle network with a focus on Strategic Cycling Corridors.

In addition, we will improve road safety and amenity including major infrastructure upgrades and improvements to pedestrian and traffic management and the development of a parking strategy.

We will deliver an education and safety program around e-scooter parking and management for safe and liveable streets.

Planning for upgrades to Smith Street and Gertrude Street tram stops will begin including identifying location, design, economic impacts and accessibility and social equity considerations.

We will also upgrade pedestrian infrastructure in Cremorne to improve movement and safety in the area.

Transparent and robust democracy and governance

Yarra Council’s decisions and advocacy are built on evidence and meaningful engagement. We strive to make sure that good governance is at the heart of all processes and decision-making.

This Budget we have made great strides towards our goal of financial sustainability and transparency. Our carefully considered cost-saving measures and budgeting have meant we can provide for our residents now and into the future, without compromising services or incurring new debt.

We are also investing in expanding Council’s community engagement program to ensure that we give our community as many avenues and opportunities to inform our work as possible.

We will also be improving our community’s digital access and customer experience by upgrading our website to make it easier for residents to interact with Council, anywhere, anytime.

Past Budgets