Yarra delivers a responsible and responsive draft Budget in challenging times

Tuesday 19 April 2022

Yarra City Council has unanimously endorsed a draft Budget for community feedback that seeks to build back better by investing in bike lanes, new and improved open space and cleaner energy infrastructure.

 Council has worked hard to develop a responsible and responsive draft Budget that reflects the challenging economic landscape we find ourselves in.

Like all councils across Victoria, Yarra has had to manage the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, both through increased investment to support our local community and businesses and loss of revenue.

In addition to this, Yarra has also had to manage the financial challenges associated with rate capping (with rising costs outstripping the rate cap), a growing population, ageing infrastructure, cost-shifting and the need build cash reserves to finance capital projects.

“We made a deliberate and considered decision to step up and assist our community and businesses during the pandemic,” Yarra City Council Mayor Cr Sophie Wade said.

“As a result, our operating environment and financial position has been impacted significantly with losses in excess of $50 million.”

Mayor Wade said to continue to deliver the breadth and quality of services, as well as continuing to deliver on our strategic vision, the Council and community would need to make some tough decisions. 

The $219 million draft Budget 2022-23 focuses on addressing our current and future priorities, whilst also being realistic about the challenging financial environment we are currently operating in.

“Consideration has to be given to improving our operations and making them as efficient as possible, managing costs, attracting external funding and expanding opportunities to generate revenue,” Mayor Wade said.

“While Council has sufficient cash reserves at present, there is a need for urgent and meaningful change now, to ensure we can keep providing for our community in the future.”

Council expects to deliver financial improvements and efficiencies over the next 10 years of at least $23 million. 

In addition to this we are currently undertaking an independent strategic review of our operations, which we will report back to the community and seek their feedback.

Council is also seeking to maximise the public value of its existing assets.

This year Council is proposing to increase metered parking and permit fees. The cost of Yarra’s resident parking permits will remain among the lowest in inner-city Melbourne, and we are also maintaining our significant concession discounts (including retaining a free first permit for concession holders). This is the first time in six years metered parking fees have increased in Yarra. We are moving towards a more demand  driven parking model that considers demand for parking spaces in price setting. This increase in parking revenue will help Council to continue to provide the services and projects the community wants us to invest in.

Over the next year, Council will also be investigating the potential introduction of a separate waste charge in its 2023/24 Budget. Yarra is one of only eight councils in Victoria that does not have a separate waste charge. This investigative work has yet to commence but will be undertaken in close consultation with the community where we will consider a range of options and the implications of those, prior to making any decision about this.

A separate waste charge would bring Yarra into line with the overwhelming majority of councils across Victoria and may potentially allow for further investments in our waste collection services to ensure we remain a leader in the sustainability space. It will also assist us in meeting upcoming legislative requirements.

Council will also continue to support its more vulnerable community members through its Hardship Policy and Pensioner Rebate.

“While this draft Budget has a strong focus on our fiscal responsibilities and infrastructure, it also outlines a range of projects that will help achieve our community’s vision for Yarra.” 

The draft Budget includes a rate increase of 1.75 per cent which is in line with the 2022-23 rate cap implemented by the Victorian Government, which the Essential Services Commission set based on CPI. 

Council will continue to support the community through the following projects: 

Continuing to transition Council buildings off gas, including making significant progress in relation to getting our Town Halls off gas.

Collingwood College Early Childhood Centre development (funded primarily by the Department of Education, in partnership with Collingwood College) Council will deliver a refurbished building and outdoor area for the purpose of Council operating three and four-year-old funded kindergarten, playgroups and occasional care.

Designing a new pocket park in Charlotte Street, Richmond which will be delivered the following year.

A range of improvements across Yarra’s bicycle network.

Road safety improvements via dedicated improvements in Carlton North, Fitzroy North, Clifton Hill, Abbotsford and Richmond. 

Delivering programs to support households and businesses to reduce carbon emissions to work towards a zero carbon Yarra.

Master planning for Inner Circle Linear Parklands including community consultation.

The introduction of a CALD digital literacy learning program. Council is engaging officers with community language skills, particularly Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese and Somali, to support our ongoing community and digital learning programs.

Acceleration of Yarra’s tree planting program to support the planting of an additional 500 trees to the approximate 1000 trees we already plant each year.

The draft Budget will be available to view on Your Say Yarra from Friday, 22nd April or you can attend one of our draft Budget information sessions below:

Tuesday, 26 April
Webinar
7pm to 8pm
Questions for this session must be lodged in advance

Thursday 28 April
Richmond Town Hall meetings room 1 and 2
1pm to 2pm

Thursday 5 May – Youth draft Budget Information Session

Yarra Youth Centre at 156 Napier Street, Fitzroy.
4pm to 5:30pm 

For more information about these draft Budget information sessions or to seek assistance in your language please visit: Draft annual Budget 2022/23 information sessions | Yarra City Council.

The draft Budget 2022-23 will be out for community feedback until Friday, 6 May.

* The draft Budget 2022-23 will be live on Your Say Yarra from Friday, 22nd April and the consultation will commence on the same day.

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