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Budget set to recover, restore and revive community

Budget set to recover, restore and revive community

Friday, June 4, 2021

The City of Whittlesea has adopted its 2021/22 Budget, resetting Council’s priorities in order to best support our community as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to significantly impact all Victorians.

Council has taken a sustainable approach to operational costs, boosted its investment in areas with high community benefits, and rolled-over its $2 million Covid Community Recovery Fund from the previous year.

A significant investment in economic development will help businesses get back on their feet and thrive while creating new local employment opportunities for residents.

Improving our customer service is a priority and a new project that puts our community first will provide outcomes to help new, existing and future residents and businesses interact with Council.

Chair Administrator Ms Lydia Wilson said the Annual Budget 2021/22 was responsible and financially sustainable.

“This year’s Budget puts the City of Whittlesea in a strong fiscal position to manage future impacts of the pandemic and provide for the needs of our community,” she said.

“We understand it has been a difficult time for many in our community. This budget allows Council to manage costs while ensuring we can continue to invest in infrastructure and services.

“We will continue to deliver more than 100 services and upgrade many of our existing facilities and assets, maintain and protect our natural environment and open spaces, and deliver new infrastructure projects that will accommodate our rapidly growing and diverse community.

“We are also finalising a plan made up of projects and initiatives that will help our community recover from the impacts of Covid. A working group made up of 32 community members has proposed a number of projects and initiatives to be funded through the Covid Community Recovery Fund and we look forward to announcing these soon.”

Council will invest $76 million into exciting new and refurbished facilities. This includes an upgrade to the McLeans Road Kindergarten in Bundoora ($2.79 million), construction of the new Wollert East Community Centre ($3.43 million), redevelopment of Mill Park Basketball Stadium ($2.7 million), and a community skate park ($900,000) in Whittlesea township.

Helping people move around our City safely is important and a number of local road projects have been included such as the reconstruction of Arthurs Creek road at Yan Yean ($2 million), construction of Sackville Street and Bridge Inn Road intersection ($1 million) and $1 million to complete works on the Findon Road extension which will connect Plenty Road in the east and the Hume Freeway in the west.

Ms Wilson said Council will also invest significantly in local parks, gardens and public open spaces that residents can be proud of and enjoy.

“We will invest $2.4 million into upgrading Whittlesea Public Gardens, and a further $2 million to commence a masterplan that will see Quarry Hills Regional Park transformed into a major regional open space over time,” Ms Wilson said.

In 2021/22, Council will invest $229 million into service delivery, providing people of all ages and stages of life with access to programs and activities that will enhance their health and wellbeing and maintain community connection.

“This Budget resets Council’s priorities after a challenging year for the community in which Covid has impacted on financial, social and mental health,” Ms Wilson said.

Council will invest $12 million to provide services, programs and activities that will support older people to live independently in their homes and almost $10 million for the provision of family and children services. Local services targeting young people will be delivered ($1.96 million) and $8.63 million will be invested in public health services and programs that will help protect and enhance community health, safety and wellbeing. 

Council will, for the second consecutive year, absorb most of the rising costs associated with waste collection. The Victorian Government will increase landfill levy costs to Council by more than 60 per cent in 2021-22. Council proposes to increase its waste charge by 1.5 per cent to recover $10 million of the $12.36 million increase this will cost Council, representing a $2.36 million subsidy for the community.

Rates will increase by 1.5 per cent, which complies with the Victorian Government’s rate cap under the Fair Go Rating System.

“Rates and charges are Council’s primary source of income and integral to funding the delivery of services and investment in the infrastructure development and renewal that supports our growing community,” Ms Wilson said.

Council is budgeting for a full year operating surplus of $146.46 million in 2021-22.

“This may appear significant on paper; however, it is not a cash surplus and the majority of this fund is made up of developer contribution fees for future developments and therefore is not available for Council to use for other purposes,” Ms Wilson said.

“The operating surplus is largely driven by revenue received from non-monetary developer contributions ($104.08 million), monetary developer contributions ($17.34 million) and capital grant income ($17.41 million) and must be used for future infrastructure investment.

More key Budget highlights include:

  • $5.24 million contribution to provide the Regional Library Service
  • $4.41 million for traffic management services, including school crossings and community education programs
  • $1.89 million to upgrade the HR Uren Reserve pavilion
  • $2.11 million for the construction of a Mernda Community Activity Centre
  • $900,000 for sports ground and turf renewal at Laurimar Reserve west oval