The City of Boroondara’s Budget for the 2021-22 financial year was adopted at the Council meeting on Monday night, laying the foundations to strengthening our community following a challenging 2020.
As our community continues to face the lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Budget aims to strengthen Boroondara with key focuses on significant capital projects stimulating the local economy, vital support services to continue assisting our residents, and the continuation of our drive to improve our environmental sustainability.
This comes despite the significant impact COVID-19 has had on Council’s resources and revenue streams, with the total net loss over the 2019-20 and 2020-21 financial years estimated to total $28 million. For the first time in its history, the City of Boroondara was in deficit for the 2020-21 financial year and this Budget provides a clear and measured path to recovery.
Mayor of Boroondara Cr Garry Thompson said, “I am confident the 2021-22 Budget will deliver the support, investment and infrastructure our community needs to thrive despite the many challenges we all faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Council will undertake significant major projects in 2021-22 which are to be completed over the next few years. These include:
- Kew Recreation Centre redevelopment ($68.0 million over 4 years, expected to be completed in 2022-23), and
- Canterbury Community Precinct ($11.3 million, expected to be completed in 2021-22).
Other Council budget commitments include:
- $400,000, with the possibility of adding an extra $1 million, to finalise and consider our new Climate Action Plan including planning for the implementation of substantial actions in future years.
- Upgrading our sporting pavilions in line with our Diversity, Inclusion and Participation Program to ensure facilities are accessible for people with differing needs in our community; including Canterbury Sportsground Pavilion ($2 million) and Rathmines Reserve Pavilion ($1.5 million) upgrades.
- $2.3 million for a regional playground at Victoria Park, Kew.
- $3.61 million for a range of environmental initiatives, including $2.2 million to implement our Sustainable Council Building Policy requirement to deliver a minimum 5 Star Green Star equivalent standard for all new buildings and applicable retrofits. $400,000 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions including LED lighting, plus heating and cooling upgrades.
- $266,100 to enhance and maintain urban biodiversity across the municipality by implementing initiatives including the Backyard Biodiversity project, Wildlife not Weeds program, interpretive signage and to extend the areas of Boroondara which are actively managed for their significant biodiversity values.
Alongside the Climate Action Plan, work will also continue on a number of other important strategies for the community, including the Boroondara Bicycle Strategy and Reconciliation Strategy.
“We know taking meaningful, sustainable action to respond to the rising challenges of climate change is important to our community, which is why we’re committed to finalising and adopting our Climate Action Plan. This Budget centres on our commitment to improving Boroondara’s environmental sustainability, with key initiatives designed to minimise our impact on the environment and provide a healthier, more sustainable future for our City,” said Mayor Thompson.
Council will continue to maintain infrastructure at a high standard. In the Budget for 2021-22, Council has allocated:
- $11.2 million on road renewal
- $10.9 million for 30 other community building renewal works and minor works for properties under Council stewardship
- $4.5 million for drainage renewal
- $3.1 million on footpath and cycleway renewal.
To continue the organisation’s mission on further improving our customer-centric service, Council will invest $14.04 million in a number of transformation projects as part of the Boroondara Customer First Program. These projects will provide increased choice and convenience for our community when interacting with Council. Comprehensive community engagement, self-service options, digital hubs, online forms and payment options for over 140 services, permits and registrations can now all be processed online. Thanks to this investment, we have already delivered $2.86 million in labour savings.
“Our focus is on improving the quality and experience of using Council services. An important part of this is for Council to bring its service delivery into the current century by recognising our community’s use of technology when accessing services in their daily lives,” said Mayor Thompson.
Council will continue to invest in community services and facilities such as our libraries, healthcare, aged-care services, family and youth services, recreation, parks, roads and placemaking in line with high quality service provision. These services include expenditure of:
- $19.7 million for parks and gardens, biodiversity and street trees maintenance
- $11.1 million for planning, development and building controls
- $10.3 million for maintenance of the city’s infrastructure including buildings, drainage, footpaths, roads and shopping centres
- $9.4 million to provide library services 7 days a week
- $8.7 million on health and wellbeing services including immunisation, youth and recreation services
- $8.3 million on aged care support for vulnerable members of our community
- $3 million on arts and cultural services and events.
In line with the Victoria Government’s rate cap, the Budget includes a 1.5 per cent rate increase to the total rates Council requires to operate and provide services to the community. This increase amounts to less than 20 cents per week for the median value residential property in the city, and is necessary to support the budget initiatives.