Yarra delivers a pandemic-led Budget

Yarra Council has worked hard to develop a Budget that continues to deliver essential community services, while also supporting Yarra residents through the COVID-19 health crisis.

At last night’s Council Meeting, the 2020/2021 Budget was adopted.

A Yarra Council spokesperson said more than $30 million had been allocated to vital projects such as the renewal of footpaths and roads, upgrades to important community facilities including the Jack Dyer Pavilion, upgrades to Richmond Kindergarten and new library resources to educate and inspire Yarra residents.

The spokesperson said a larger focus was also on COVID-19 and its short and medium-term financial impacts on the Yarra community.

“In developing this year’s Budget the priority was to continue to deliver essential services to the community, while simultaneously supporting residents through COVID-19 and the lockdowns,” the spokesperson said.

This year’s Budget incorporates a $7.46 million COVID-19 Community and Economic Support Package. The package provides much needed financial assistance to the residents hit hardest by COVID-19, as well as economic stimulus to businesses and support for Yarra’s creative and sporting communities. It is designed to supplement State and Federal assistance and to sustain the Yarra community during the challenging months ahead.

The 2020/2021 Budget also incorporates a COVID-19 hardship policy for ratepayers who are struggling financially as a direct result of the health crisis. A further pensioner discount rate of $$190.90 is also included – one of the largest discounts provided by any Victorian Council.

“Both the hardship policy and the pensioner discount rate provides urgently needed assistance to the members of the Yarra community who need it most,” the spokesperson said.

“Anyone who is struggling financially as a direct result of the health crisis is encouraged to get in contact with Council to discuss their individual circumstances. The 2020/2021 Budget also looks to the long term, with the introduction of a new glass-only recycling bin to significantly reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfill. This new glass-only recycling bin is for all residents living in the City of Yarra. It will revolutionise the way Council recycles, and will reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill,” the spokesperson said.

The Budget includes a rate increase of 2 per cent, which is in line with the 2020-21 rate cap outlined under the Fair Go Rating System. It is also consistent with the majority of other councils in Victoria.

This year’s Budget has been guided by many of the ideas and priorities the community shared when Yarra first consulted in late 2019.

The impacts of COVID-19 have meant that some of Yarra Council’s strategic priorities are not included in this year’s Budget.

Some of these important projects include transitioning Council’s buildings and facilities away from natural gas, rolling out a new four-bin waste and recycling service and delivering new bike lanes.

“Council acknowledges the significant community support these projects have and will consider these as part of its mid-year budget review, once the full economic impact of COVID-19 is better understood,” the spokesperson said.

Council recognises this is not a business as usual Budget.

This is a Budget that balances a number of competing priorities, including providing support and assistance to residents who need it most at the moment.

Despite all of this, Yarra residents will continue to see a range of significant improvements across Yarra this year,” the spokesperson said.

Highlights of Yarra’s $197.36 million budget

  • $7.46 million to help residents, businesses, and organisations hit hardest by COVID-19. This COVID-19 Community and Economic Support Package includes $2.6 million in grants.
  • $9.23 million to renew our footpaths and roads and keep pedestrians and motorists safe.
  • $8.08 million to bring important community facilities up to modern and safe standards. This includes $2 million for the new Jack Dyer Pavilion at Citizens Park, Richmond.
  • $1.2 million for upgrades to Richmond Kindergarten.
  • $815,000 to reconstruct some of Yarra’s much-loved bluestone laneways.
  • $800,000 for a new 1.2 million litre rainwater storage tank at Edinburgh Gardens.
  • $620,000 for new library resources to educate and inspire residents of all ages.
  • $600,000 to complete the pavilion and public toilet redevelopment at Ryan’s Reserve.
  • $555,000 for improvements at Clifton Hill’s Darling Gardens.
  • $500,000 to progress planning and design of the Brunswick Street Oval Precinct.
  • $135,000 towards a new small local park at Reid Street, North Fitzroy.
  • $30,000 as part of its commitment to support the Australian Black Lives Matter Movement of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

The adopted Budget will be available on our website at yarracity.vic.gov.au/budget from next week.

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