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Council adopts 2014/15 budget
11 June 2014
Yarra City Council last night adopted its $187 million budget for 2014/15, following a community consultation period during which more than 80 written submissions and 253 petition signatures were received and 15 people presented in person.
Yarra Mayor, Cr Jackie Fristacky, said “strong and thoughtful community representations helped Councillors consider some projects from different perspectives. We saw the community’s passion for particular initiatives and we listened. It was a terrific example of democracy in action.”
Councillors voted to add into the adopted budget the following initiatives:
- $100,000 for an Urban Agriculture Facilitator position to support local food growing projects in Yarra;
- $25,000 to implement phase three of a Communities that Care program to provide support to middle years children (8-12 year olds)
- Support for the Garage Sale Trail and Friends of Public Housing initiatives.
Cr Fristacky said the adopted budget would deliver a significant $35.6 million capital works program for road, footpath, traffic management and bicycle infrastructure projects as well as some exciting new initiatives.
“We also have $2.7 million for new initiatives including $45,000 to improve the way we communicate with our residents from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds and people with visual impairments or literacy issues.”
Cr Fristacky said whilst Council was committed to delivering the quality everyday programs and services that residents expected, it was also mindful of keeping rates at a reasonable level.
There will be a modest 5.4% increase in general rates for ratepayers, which will be offset for older residents by a 6.6% increase in the rate rebate for pensioners.
Following community feedback, Council has deferred plans for a $650,000 shared pathway connecting Merri Creek Trail to Rushall Reserve. Council will conduct further community consultation on this project before making any further decision.
Highlights of this year’s budget include:
- $187 million operating and capital expenditure budget;
- $35.6 million capital works program (excludes carried forward projects $4.8 million);
- $2.7 million in new initiatives;
- $2 million for community grants;
- 5.4% increase in general rates for ratepayers; and
- 6.6% increase in the rate rebate for pensioners (from $150 to $160 per annum) as well as continuing to ensure concession fees remain affordable.
Council will fund the following new initiatives:
- $826,000 to progress the construction of Burnley Backyard – a community centre in Tudor Street, Richmond;
- $250,000 for the planning and management of special events in local parks over New Year’s Eve and Australia Day;
- $120,000 for a revision of the Yarra Planning Scheme capturing broad community views on how the scheme can be improved to ensure better outcomes for Yarra
- $25,000 to establish a Live Music Acoustic Fund which will assist local live music venues to respond to issues associated with the operation of venues in Yarra. It is anticipated that the fund will operate in close collaboration with Music Victoria.
Capital Works Highlights
The $35.6 million capital works program includes:
$15.2 million for building projects including:
- $4.4 million to design and begin construction of the new $14.5 million North Fitzroy Community Hub, which is expected to include a library, community meeting rooms, a maternal child and health centre, a customer service counter and a roof top garden;
- $2.4 million for the refurbishment of the 345 Bridge Road, Richmond building. Council recently purchased this three-storey building as a strategic investment. The top floor will be used for office space for Council, while the lower two floors will be leased to other organisations;
- $1.1 million for the fit out of a new community facility at 26 Bendigo Street, Richmond (in the former GTV9 television studios);
- $950,000 for the redevelopment of the Gold Street Child Care Centre in Collingwood;
- $260,000 for the refurbishment of the Richmond Town Hall reception to make the customer service centre more accessible.
Roads, Footpaths, Drains, Tree Root Management and Retail Shopping Strips
$8.6 million for more than 100 road, footpath, drainage and tree root management projects including:
- $205,000 for footpath and pavement works in Raphael Street, Abbotsford;
- $190,000 for public domain works in the Smith Street retail precinct, Collingwood;
- $150,000 for footpath renewal works in Bridge Road retail precinct, Richmond;
- $130,000 for pavement works in Rushall Crescent, Clifton Hill;
- $95,000 for rehabilitation works in bluestone laneway between Chestnut and Green streets, Cremorne;
- $90,000 for footpath and kerb and channel works in Freeman Street, North Fitzroy;
- $65,000 for reconstruction of bluestone laneway off Khartoum Street, Burnley;
- $50,000 for footpath works in Victoria Street, Richmond; and
- $30,000 for drainage works in Newry Street, North Carlton.
- $360,000 towards Council’s $3.4 million Energy Performance Contract, which will fund the implementation of efficiency measures identified in an audit of 18 Council-owned buildings;
- $410,000 for installation of co-generation equipment at Richmond Leisure Centre.
Parks and Open Space
$4.5 million for more than 20 parks and open space projects including:
- $515,000 for the construction of a new park at 615 Church Street, Richmond, which will see a disused freeway off ramp transformed into 3000m2 of accessible open space;
- $300,000 for renewal works on the Main Yarra Trail from Mac Robertson Bridge to Burnley Harbour ;
- $150,000 for sports lighting projects at Kevin Bartlett Reserve; and
- $100,000 for new lighting at Edinburgh Gardens.
- $500,000 for separated Copenhagen bike lanes on Wellington Street (between Victoria Parade and Johnston Street, Collingwood).
$1.3 million to plan and implement Local Area Traffic Management Plans (LATMS) including:
- $250,000 for the implementation of traffic calming measures in Richmond as part of LATMS 17;
- $200,000 to improve pedestrian amenity in line with Council’s Encouraging and Increasing Walking Strategy.
Leisure Centres and Sporting Facilities
- $365,000 for the installation of access controls and ticketing kiosks at Yarra’s leisure centres to improve access for members;
- $150,000 to improve disability access to the gymnasium at Fitzroy Swimming Pool.
Factors impacting the budget
Once again this year, there are a number of mandatory State Government charges. Among these is the Fire Services Property Levy which all Victorian Councils have been directed by the State Government to collect. Although appearing on rates notices, this is not a Council charge for Council services, but a State levy. You can read more about the Levy on Council’s website.
State Government landfill levy costs will also rise by 10%. In 2014/15, the amount of this levy for Yarra will be over $1 million - an increase of $100,000 on the previous year. This creates a major incentive for everyone to help reduce waste sent to landfill.
Council acquired debt of $32.5 million in 2013/14 to pay out Council’s Vision Super defined benefit liability and to fund major community infrastructure and services investments, including the acquisition and refurbishment of the property at 345 Bridge Road, Richmond; the acquisition of the Connie Benn Centre business and operations; and Council’s $3.4 million Energy Performance Contract.
This financial year is a rates revaluation year. Revaluations are used to determine the amount of rates that each property owner is charged.
Victorian Councils are required to reassess the property values in their municipality every two years. Council’s Valuations team study sales property data and inspect some properties to generate the revaluations.
Owners of properties that increased in value above the average will be required to make a higher contribution to the rates that Council collects. Conversely, owners of properties with below average increases in value will receive below average increases in their rates or, in some cases, actual decreases.
The revaluations, of themselves, do not increase the total amount of rate revenue collected by Council but instead reallocate each ratepayer’s contribution based on their property’s valuation.
Council's adopted 2014/15 budget document is available on the Council Budget webpage.
Acting Coordinator - Communications
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