The Council has endorsed its largest infrastructure spending program, aimed at driving the region’s ongoing recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and meeting the needs of a growing population.
The economic stimulus – in the form of a record $209 million annual infrastructure spend – is at the centre of Council’s Budget 2021-22.
The Budget was adopted by the Council tonight, alongside OurCommunity Plan 2021-25, which sets strategic priorities for the next four years.
Together, the documents provide strategic direction and identify how community-focused projects will be funded during this Council term.
Greater Geelong Mayor Stephanie Asher said the Budget outlined Council’s major priorities and detailed the roll out of $728 million in community infrastructure over the four years.
This includes the fully funded Northern Aquatic and Community Hub, with Council last month committing a further $21.84 million to the high priority project.
It takes Council’s total contribution to $44.84 million, ensuring the $61.6 million vision becomes a reality.
This is a record investment Budget that provides continued support for those affected by the pandemic and delivers significant benefit by way of community facilities that will sustainably grow the city.
It’s a Budget that plans for a return to surplus within this Council’s term, while also limiting the financial impact on our ratepayers and residents wherever possible.
Despite continuing lower revenues due to the impacts of COVID-19, we have frozen many sport, recreation and cultural fees to encourage greater use of our facilities.
Fees and charges to be retained at previously adopted 2020-21 levels include Swim, Sport and Leisure centres, Leisure and Recreation centres, Community Fair Play seasonal hire, golf, community halls, Breamlea Caravan Park, National Wool Museum and building permits.
The general rate rise is the lowest recorded in Greater Geelong’s history, with the increase limited to the Victorian Government’s cap of 1.5 per cent.
In further targeted support for businesses, Council has frozen the average movement on commercial rates and removed the Central Geelong Marketing (CGM) levy.
A new central Geelong parking initiative, which encourages visitors to stay longer by providing the second hour free of charge, aims to further lift economic activity in the CBD.
Finance Portfolio Chair, Councillor Anthony Aitken, said the budget tackles the challenges posed by COVID-19, while meeting existing community need.
Budgets are not just about money, they’re about values and priorities, and this Budget reflects that.
We have identified $209 million worth of priorities in capital works projects for 2021-22, including renewing ageing assets at a scale never seen before and for new facilities.
Council has shown that it values listening to community members because we’ve heavily invested in projects they’ve been calling for, such as aquatic facilities like the Northern
Aquatic and Community Hub and the North Bellarine pool.
With Greater Geelong being one of the fastest growing municipalities in Australia, the Council has committed to ‘getting things done’ through this Budget.