Review identifies budget improvements

A Council-commissioned
review has found a range of measures to improve the City’s process of setting
fees and charges in its annual budget.

A report, to be
presented to Council next week, proposes to improve transparency by disclosing
all fees and charges in internal briefings and public Budget documents.

This would see
all fees and charges published in Council’s 2020-21 budget documentation and
released for public consultation.

recommendations include:

the authorisation process and management review of fees and charges;

the internal budget timetable to provide adequate time for reviews;

a single report listing all fees and charges; and

a strategic direction for setting car parking fees in the Geelong CBD Parking

The report
details the findings of a review into all 2019-20 fees and charges, which
determined how many had “significantly increased” without being included in the
budget consultation process.

The review was requested
by Council, after four higher on-street parking fees were introduced on 1 July
that had not been communicated or disclosed in budget documents.

The Council
held a special meeting on 4 July, where the capped on-street all-day, 3-hour
and 4-hour parking fees were returned to their 2018-19 rate.

The City
considered a total of 1630 City fees and charges during its 2019-20 Budget

The review
found 46 “significant” fee increases, including the four on-street parking
fees, were not communicated to the public or disclosed in budget documents.

A further 33
new fees were introduced without public notice.

These fees largely
related to commercially competitive services that the City offers, such as in
building and construction services, leisure centres and hiring of facilities
and halls.

The fees were
applied in line with the City’s existing fees and charges policy, which allows
for full costs to be recovered and for competitively neutrality pricing.

The City had
aimed to exhibit key changes to fees and charges in its 2019-20 Budget process.

However, it
became clear that not all the key changes were communicated to the public or
included in the Budget documents.

A full list of
fees and charges for 2019-20 was later published on the City’s website in early

Council will
consider the report’s recommendations at a meeting at City Hall on Tuesday

Director Customer and Corporate Services Michael Dugina

By not
disclosing a full list of proposed fees, we did not provide an opportunity for
people to have their say on the services they may use. This approach lacked
transparency and is a process error that will be fixed before the 2020-21
Budget. We want to
encourage the community to put forward their views on the City’s proposals. Residents can
play a key role in helping us make improved decisions that reflect the best
interests of the community.

/Public Release. View in full here.