Twenty-three submissions were received on the Draft Budget and 14 on the Community Plan Action Plan during the consultation period with suggestions incorporated into the final documents.
Chair Administrator Lydia Wilson said Council’s 2022-23 Budget had been carefully and responsibly developed to ensure it can respond to community needs both now and into the future, while still maintaining a strong long-term financial position.
“It is challenging to develop a budget that delivers for today while ensuring the Council will be in a financial position to provide the infrastructure and services needed to cater for significant population growth in the future,” Ms Wilson said.
The City of Whittlesea is expected to grow by 62% between now and 2040, compared to the State average of 25%.
“We’re confident this budget balances these competing priorities and reflects our community’s priorities.”
“Our community told us they would like us to invest in local roads, parks and open spaces as well as supporting local business and providing an opportunity for jobs growth. And they highlighted the importance of local festivals and events, increasing kindergarten spaces and addressing needs that have arisen out of the pandemic,” she said.
“Our Budget also supports local community groups who have been impacted by cost increases due to the pandemic.
“We have allocated an extra $140,000 to support local community led events. Of this, an extra $20,000 will go to the Whittlesea Agricultural Show (bringing total contributions to $40,000) and an extra $20,000 to the Whittlesea Country Music Festival (bringing total contributions to $50,000). $100,000 will be made available to community event organisers through Council’s Community Events grant program”
The $297.06 million Budget includes an operating budget of $245.39 million and a capital works program of $51.67 million to deliver new and improved infrastructure and upgrade roads and facilities around the City.
The capital program is a reset in the context of a post-COVID environment which addresses industry-wide delays, construction supply issues and price increases.
“We are working hard to ensure we deliver the most critical new projects but also that we have a strong pipeline of shovel-ready projects to maximise opportunities for grant funding,” Ms Wilson said.
“Our committee of Council listened to submissions for the Budget and as a result have added $100,000 for works at Sycamore Recreation Reserve BMX track.”
“I would like to thank all those who took to the time to provide a submission, we will be writing to every person to advise of the outcomes,” she said.
Average rates in 2022-23 will increase by 1.75 per cent, in line with the rate cap set by the Victorian Government’s Fair Go Rates Policy.
Being mindful of the impacts of the pandemic on the cost of living, Council will continue to significantly subsidise waste charges for the next four years, with a proposed increase of 13.8% in 2022-23.
Council’s anticipated budgeted cash result is $14.28 million, which is proposed to be transferred into a newly created Regional Sports & Aquatic Fund to help fund the delivery of a new state-of-the-art centre to support the City of Whittlesea community to lead healthy and active lifestyles.
Highlights of the 2022-23 $51.67 million capital program include:
- Completion of Mill Park Basketball Stadium Redevelopment
- Completion of the Mernda Social Support Centre
- Continue improvements to Whittlesea Public Gardens which will include a skate park, rock climbing wall, basketball courts, barbeque and shelter area and a car park
- Construct a basketball court, shelter and social gathering spaces and upgrade paths at the western end of Norris Bank Reserve
- Norris Bank Tennis Courts Redevelopment (design)
- Commence designing the Patterson Drive Community Centre/Kindergarten in Donnybrook
- Commence foundational infrastructure for development of the Quarry Hills precinct including drainage and trails
- Commence construction of a new playground, shelters and a multipurpose court at Kelynack Reserve
- Street light bulb replacement program
- Ongoing programs to upgrade playgrounds and general landscapes
- Implementation of Greening Whittlesea including tree planting programs.
Community Plan Action Plan
The Community Plan Action Plan outlines 125 actions to be completed over the next financial year to build towards achieving the Community Plan and the Whittlesea 2040 goals of
Connected Community, Liveable Neighbourhoods, a Strong Local Economy, a Sustainable Environment and a High-Performing Organisation.
Key projects to be delivered in the 2022-23 Community Plan Action Plan include:
- Implement the Community Leadership Program
- Complete the design investigations for the regional sports and aquatic centre in Mernda
- Continue to advocate for and progress delivery of an Aboriginal Gathering Place
- Renew and develop new parks and playgrounds
- Investigate and secure opportunities for more social and affordable housing
- Implement a new Destination Tourism Plan to support the visitor and agri-tourism economies
- Implement a glass recycling bin service as a fourth kerbside collection bin
- Partner with Traditional Owners to develop land management partnerships
- Continue to make it easier for customers to interact with Council.