Hobsons Bay City Council has adopted its 2021-22 Budget, featuring $62.089 million in infrastructure, a $2 million Community Support Package and funding for more than 100 core community services.
A key focus of this year’s budget was supporting community members hardest hit by COVID-19 and the local economy.
A Community Support Package Focus Group, representing a cross-section of the community, was established to develop a meaningful and responsive package.
The package includes $1.35 million in targeted rate reduction for those who need it most. This includes rate waivers and reductions developed in consultation with the community and interest-free rate deferrals, all of which will be guided by Council’s Financial Hardship Policy.
Community support worth $650,000 will target groups most impacted by the pandemic:
• Local businesses – $162,500 to support recovery for local businesses hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. The format will be developed in consultation with local businesses and the community but may include grants, business development initiatives and promotional opportunities.
• Young people – $162,500 to fund activities focused on improving employment opportunities for Hobsons Bay’s young people, such as youth employment programs, internships, career development opportunities and upskilling.
• Community Grants – $162,500 to support community groups or organisations to ‘make things happen’ through activities, projects, programs, events and resourcing across all sectors of Hobsons Bay.
• The arts –$162,500 is allocated in the budget for a program targeting local artists and people in the creative industry during the economic recovery phase, similar to last year’s popular Arts Apart grants.
Integral to the development of the Annual Budget is community consultation. The consultation began in November 2020 with Council’s ‘Pitch Your Idea’ program. The ‘Pitch Your Idea’ program invited community members, local groups, and organisations to submit their ideas for projects and programs across Hobsons Bay for Council’s consideration.
In total, 86 submissions were received with many Pitch Your Idea projects awarded funding, including upgrading the WJ Irwin Reserve playground in Altona North ($400,000), a full park and play space upgrade of the Henderson Street Reserve in Laverton ($365,000) and resurfacing the laneway rear of shops in Mason Street, Newport ($370,000). Environmental initiatives are also supported, such as the promotion of cloth nappies to reduce waste to landfill ($11,000), along with initiatives that champion community wellbeing such as a social support program for older residents ($5,000) and installing colourful imagery into Seabrook’s parks ($20,000).
As well as the opportunity to provide a budget submission through the Pitch Your Idea project, the community was also invited to shape the budget during four weeks of public consultation. A total of 56 submissions were received during the feedback period.
To keep delivering essential services, programs and infrastructure projects that benefit our community, the Annual Budget includes a 1.5 per cent rate increase, in line with the Victorian Government’s rate cap. This means that some ratepayers will pay less than 1.5 per cent and others will pay more, but overall, general rates won’t exceed the rate cap.
The 2021-22 rates are based on new 2021 state government land valuations, independent of Council.
The Capital Works Program is designed to renew the ageing infrastructure assets our community enjoys and provides much needed jobs for our community and local suppliers.
Highlights include: $13.556 million on roads; $2.308 million on drains; $1.637 million on footpaths and cycleways; $17.323 million for recreation and open space; and $23.045 million on buildings such as sporting and recreational facilities, civic and community facilities.
Major projects include: $5.5 million for the Altona Sports Centre Extension in Altona Meadows; $5.2 million for the HD Graham Reserve sports facility development; $3 million for the JT Gray Reserve Pavilion in Williamstown North; $2 million for the Blenheim Road community park and public toilet in Newport and $2 million for the Altona Foreshore seawall and shared trail (Webb Street to Sargood Street).
A copy of the budget can be found at www.hobsonsbay.vic.gov.au/Council/Publications/Budget
Quotes attributable to Hobsons Bay Mayor Cr Jonathon Marsden
“The 2021-22 budget is our first Annual Budget for the new Council term. It is a financially responsible budget that ensures funding for current commitments, while also laying a strong foundation for Council to deliver on its future commitments, including the 10-Year Capital Works Program.
“It is also a budget that supports the members of our community hardest hit by the pandemic through targeted rate reductions and community support.
“Over 125 per cent of the income from the general rate increase will fund the $2 million Community Support Package and support those who truly need help.
“We will support our businesses – 98 per cent of which are small businesses with fewer than 20 employees, our young people – who experienced a youth employment rate climbing from 4 per cent to 18 per cent and the arts – an industry that saw a 32 per cent job loss in September 2020.
“We will also expand our successful Make it Happen Hobsons Bay Recovery and Reconnection Grants program which saw 68 projects funded in 2020-21.
“This is a budget that was developed through community consultation with the community at the centre. I thank everyone taking the time to provide feedback, pitching community submissions or being part of an advisory group.
“Representing the community is a great privilege for me and my fellow elected representatives on Council. It is a serious responsibility we are honoured to accept, which we will discharge with the greatest of care.”