Rebuilding Melbourne’s economy with stimulus and rates relief

• Total budget: $632 million

• COVID-19 Recovery Package: $50 million

• COVID-19  budget impact: More than $100 million

• Fully funded $168.5 million capital works infrastructure program

• Transport: $41 million

The City of Melbourne will invest $50 million in economic stimulus and implement a freeze on rate increases this year as Council takes action to protect jobs and businesses and responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the draft Annual Plan and Budget 2020-21 is designed to support ratepayers, strengthen the community and rebuild the local economy.

“We are making a record $50 million investment in rate relief and stimulus packages to ensure our economy recovers as quickly as possible. We want businesses to thrive again, people back in jobs and the city back to being its vibrant best,” the Lord Mayor said.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has hit our city hard. Business and retail have been severely impacted, tourist visitation has plummeted, and international students are doing it tough.

“We’re responding with a COVID-19 Recovery Budget – supporting jobs and businesses, protecting rate payers and rebuilding the local economy.”

The Lord Mayor said COVID-19 has a combined impact of more than $100 million on Council’s 2020-21 draft Budget and rebuilding Melbourne’s economy will take time and hard work.

“Years of disciplined financial management mean the City of Melbourne can step up in these unprecedented times,” the Lord Mayor said.

“This year, for the first time in more than 30 years, the budget will have a deficit. We are deliberately investing in our community now so we can support businesses and deliver infrastructure and stimulus as a platform for recovery.

“Our focus is on making sure Melbourne is open for business as soon as the restrictions lift. The City of Melbourne’s economy is the engine room of Victoria’s economy and when we are strong we know that Victoria is strong.”

Deputy Lord Mayor Arron Wood said the priority is to support struggling ratepayers so Council is announcing a rate freeze as one of the ways it can really make a difference.

“There will be no rise in rates. We are freezing rates with a zero percent rate rise. In every announcement since the pandemic hit, we’ve focussed on fixed costs for business and residents,” the Deputy Lord Mayor said.

“We’ve sought to reduce them wherever possible, whilst prudently maintaining a strong budget to enable stimulus investment.

“This is a budget that puts people and businesses first by not increasing rates and delivering essential services, programs and support packages so we can do our bit to rebuild the local economy.

“As the owner of a small business, I know first-hand that every dollar counts and this is not a time to increase rates on businesses in Melbourne.

“We are offering support to ratepayers experiencing financial hardship at an additional cost of $18.9 million.

“We’re doing our own heavy lifting by targeting $33 million in savings from expenditure on contractors, consultants and administration. We are doing everything we can to keep Council workers in jobs and have already redeployed more than 100 staff to work on the delivery of essential services such as customer service and city cleaning.”

Council will not increase fees and charges for 2020-21 for community services such as recreation centres, children’s services and libraries.

The Lord Mayor said Council will invest $168.5 million in infrastructure for our local community and economy, including getting on with the Queen Victoria Market renewal.

“We will deliver new footpaths, roads, bike lanes, open spaces, and sporting facilities, while we continue to deliver essential services like waste collection, street cleaning and recycling,” the Lord Mayor said.

“We’re also preparing a package of infrastructure projects to present to the Australian and Victorian governments. These shovel-ready projects would create jobs, stimulate our economy and protect Melbourne’s liveability.”

Parking revenue is forecast to decline significantly due to a decrease in the number of cars in the city during the COVID-19 lockdown. Parking fee revenue is budgeted at $28 million (down 33 per cent from $43 million last year). Parking fine revenue is budgeted at $16 million (down 57 per cent from $37 million last year). 

Public submissions on the draft Annual Plan and Budget 2020-21 are open from Wednesday 20 May until 5pm on Wednesday 17 June 2020.

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