Proposed Budget 2021-22: a budget for recovery

The City of Boroondara’s Proposed Budget for the 2021-22 financial year was presented at Monday night’s council meeting and is now open for public comment from 28 April until 5.00pm 26 May 2021.

COVID-19 had a significant impact on Council’s resources and revenue streams. For the first time in its history, the City of Boroondara is in deficit for the 2020-21 financial year. While there is a clear and measured path to recovery, the total estimated net loss of $28 million over the 2019-20 and 2020-21 financial years creates a challenging circumstance for Council. The proposed budget is designed to strengthen Boroondara, where the focus will be on significant capital projects to stimulate the local economy, vital support services to continue assisting our residents and the continuation of our drive to improve our environmental sustainability.

Mayor of Boroondara Cr Garry Thompson said: “Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the budget, we will continue to deliver on our promises while balancing the needs of our diverse community.”

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).
  • Canterbury Community Precinct ($11.3 million, expected to be completed in 2021-22).

Other Council budget commitments include:

  • $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.
  • 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.
  • $3.61 million on 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.

Council will continue to maintain infrastructure at an appropriate standard. In the Proposed Budget for 2021-22 Council has allocated:

  • $4.5 million for drainage renewal.
  • $2.6 million on footpath and cycleway renewal.
  • $10.5 million on road renewal.
  • $10.9 million for 30 other community building renewal works and minor works for properties under Council stewardship.

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:

  • $9.4 million to provide library services 7 days a week.
  • $8.3 million on aged care support for vulnerable members of our community.
  • $8.7 million on health and wellbeing services including immunisation, youth and recreation services.
  • $19.7 million for parks and gardens, biodiversity and street trees maintenance.
  • $3.0 million on arts and cultural services and events.
  • $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.

To improve the organisation’s focus on providing a better customer-centric service, Council will continue its investment ($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. This will enable more customers to connect with us anytime, in their preferred way, using any device and receive a consistent customer experience. Self-service options, digital hubs, online forms and payment options for over 140 services, permits and registrations can now be processed online. Thanks to this investment, we have already delivered $2.86 million in labour savings.

“Our goal is to improve the quality of the experience we provide to our community. 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.

The importance of community open space was once again reiterated during the stage 3 and 4 COVID-19 lockdowns where communities across Victoria were only able to access facilities and parks local to them. Council sets aside $800,000 each year for the open space acquisition fund which is designed to acquire additional open space for community purposes as the opportunity arises.

“As our city recovers from the impacts of COVID-19, the Proposed Budget for the 2021-22 financial year will strengthen our local economy by building new facilities, improving outdoor space, and access routes such as cycling paths and roads, while keeping the customer at the centre of everything we do with more improvements to our service delivery model,” said Mayor Thompson.

“Another feature of this year’s Proposed 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. $400,000 has been put aside to finalise and consider our new Climate Action Plan, including planning for the implementation of substantial actions in future years,” said Mayor Thompson.

In line with the Victorian 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.

The proposed Budget 2021-22 and Revenue and Rating Plan 2021-25 will be open for public comment until 5pm, Wednesday 26 May; copies of these documents are available at Council offices, libraries, and on our website.

All submissions will be presented and considered by Council on Monday 7 June.

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