Ballarat City Council has adopted its 2020/21 budget featuring a zero rate rise.
There will also be a freeze on fees and charges increases, including car parking fees.
The budget also features a $52 million capital works program which will provide an economic boost to Ballarat in the COVID-19 recovery stages.
There is also provision in the budget for a $17 million loan (if required) to offset the predicted revenue shortfall from closed facilities and an expected drop in rate payments.
There is also provision in the budget for a $17 million loan to offset the predicted revenue shortfall from closed facilities and an expected drop in rate payments.
City of Ballarat Mayor Cr Ben Taylor said there was also a COVID-19 Financial Hardship Policy available for residents who have experienced a 30 per cent decrease in income including rate deferrals, rate payment plans and waiving of interest on rate payments.
“This has been a very challenging budget to frame due to COVID-19’s economic impacts,” Cr Taylor said.
“We understand our residents are experiencing very difficult economic times which is why we have put a freeze on rates and fees and charges increases.
“Other assistance has included an automatic extension on permits, streamlining planning permit assessment processes, a dedicated Economic Response Centre to help businesses adapt, two months of free CBD parking and a change in payment cycles to ensure supplier money flows back into the economy quicker.
“However, it is also imperative the City of Ballarat maintains a solid financial position both to provide critical services and to enable the organisation to help kick start the local economy once the pandemic crisis has receded through major infrastructure projects started in previous budgets, including the Bakery Hill and Bridge Mall Precinct Urban Renewal Project, the Ballarat Central Library upgrade and the Carbon Neutrality and 100% Renewables Action Plan.”
The highlights of the 2020/21 budget, based on the four Council Plan 2017-2021 pillars, include:
- A zero rate increase, with the Victorian Government’s rate cap set at two per cent
- A zero rise in fees and charges
- No rise in the waste levy
- $17 million in new borrowings may be required to help cover the COVID-19 impact of a $20 million cash shortfall, caused mainly by facility closures and an expected rate revenue drop.
- $1.6 million for safety and risk commitments
- $1.6 million for advocacy and lobbying to Victorian and Australian governments for investment in Council projects and initiatives
- $52 million for the core capital works program
- $17.1 million for waste services
- $13.9 million for roads
- $11.5 million for parks and gardens
- $10.1 million for infrastructure maintenance
- $3.5 million over four years for energy efficient LED lighting
- $1 million increase in facilities maintenance over two years to a total of $4.7 million per year
- $969,000 for parks, open spaces and streetscapes
- $500,000 towards a 40 per cent tree canopy
- $9 million for Sport and Active Living programs
- $2.8 million for tourism
- $2.7 million for library service
- $1.9 million over two years for the Ballarat Central Library upgrade
- $394,000 for new library books
- $335,000 for Maternal and Child Health programs
- $15 million over three years for the Bakery Hill and Bridge Mall Precinct Urban Renewal Project
- $6.8 million for events, Creative City and tourism
- $3.3 million for urban design and heritage projects
- $2.2 million for economic development initiatives