At Monday night’s Council meeting, the City of Boroondara adopted its 2020-2021 budget, which forms a roadmap to building a better Boroondara throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
More than $80m in capital works projects to meet community needs will provide Victorians with jobs and deliver the local economy a significant boost once Victoria reopens after the restrictions.
Council will continue to invest in community services and facilities, such as our libraries, healthcare, environment and climate change, aged-care services, family and youth services, recreation, parks, roads and more, so the City of Boroondara can continue supporting and strengthening the Boroondara community.
Mayor of Boroondara Cr Cynthia Watson said this year has presented Council with unprecedented challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. These challenges have been far reaching and have touched all Boroondara residents, businesses, community groups, and the wider community in one way or another.
“While Council is not immune to these challenges, the provision of high quality services and infrastructure remains a priority in the proposed budget to meet the needs and aspirations of the community. This is not a time for sitting on our hands and wondering what might happen; it is a time to act and to do our best to shape what happens,” she said.
To deliver what we promised, and to ensure we continue to meet the needs of our community now and well into the future, including residents who are impacted by COVID-19, this budget will:
- Continue funding COVID-19 support and relief activities, comprising multiple initiatives to ease the financial burden on the Boroondara community. This is part of Council’s $4.5m support and relief package, announced in April 2020, to support businesses and residents most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 financial years.
- Construct a new community precinct in Canterbury at a cost of $11.3m. The new precinct will provide vital community services currently operating in temporary locations across Canterbury, with construction beginning this year.
- Begin development of the new Kew Recreation Centre, which is projected to cost $68.04m upon completion. Following consultation with more than 2,000 members of our community, we are excited to start work on this contemporary facility in late 2020.
- Minimise our environmental footprint by investing more than $4m on a range of initiatives including purchase of 100 per cent green renewable electricity for our buildings and street lighting, replacement of outdated lighting technology with more energy efficient LED lighting, replacement of inefficient heating and cooling systems, installation of solar photovoltaic energy generation systems, development of a climate action plan and upgrading infrastructure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Throughout the duration of the 2020-21 Council Budget, any net savings from capital works projects will be considered by Council, on a quarterly basis, for use on initiatives within the role of Council that could be required to further support the Boroondara community during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As Boroondara residents, businesses, community groups and the wider community continue to deal with the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, we stand committed to delivering on the promises we’ve made to our community. Constructing these new community facilities will create jobs for both Boroondara locals and Victorians,” said Cr Watson.
“More than $4m will be invested to minimise our environmental footprint. Council has begun purchasing 100 per cent green renewable energy, and will continue investing in beneficial and tangible initiatives to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.”
The City of Boroondara’s high level of service provision to residents will continue. These services include expenditure of:
- $9.4m to provide library services 7 days a week
- $12.1m on aged and healthcare services including immunisation and aged-care support for vulnerable members of our community
- $8.9m on family, youth and recreation services
- $18.5m for parks and gardens, biodiversity and maintenance of street trees
- $3.3m on arts and cultural services and events
- $11.1m for planning, development and building controls
- $11m for maintenance of the city’s infrastructure including buildings, drainage, footpaths, roads and shopping centres
Some other exciting initiatives include:
- $1.05m for shopping centre streetscape improvement works at Cotham Village and Highfield Road
- $2.6m for a regional playground at Victoria Park
In line with the Victorian Government’s rate cap, the budget includes a 2 per cent rate increase to the total rates Council requires to operate and provide services to the community. This increase amounts to less than 60 cents per week for the median value residential property in the city, and is necessary to support the budget initiatives.
“Depending on any changes to their property value as assessed by the Valuer-General, some ratepayers will see no increase to their rates, while some rates will either decrease or increase in line with both the rate cap and movement in valuations of the individual properties,” said Cr Watson.
“Ratepayers experiencing difficulties should contact Council to access support through our Financial Hardship Policy.”
Waste service charges in 2020-21 will decrease on average by 3.9 per cent thanks to the successful implementation of the new FOGO (Food Organics Garden Organics) waste collection service. With this new service, Council is diverting 69 per cent of waste from landfill. This waste is primarily made up of recyclables and FOGO generated by households across the municipality. This means less money is paid to the Victorian Government’s landfill waste levy.
“Council will pay less on the landfill levy thanks to the introduction of FOGO,” said Cr Watson. “The savings will flow through to the ratepayer, who ultimately pays for the landfill levy through their waste charge.”
The proposed budget for 2020-21 will ensure Boroondara remains a vibrant, inclusive city; one in which our community feels proud to live in. This budget continues to implement the commitments contained in our 10-year Boroondara Community Plan, which was adopted in 2018 and developed based upon the feedback Council received from more than 11,800 residents.
“Every cent Council collects goes to supporting and delivering services to the community. This budget enables us to deliver what is most important to you in line with our 10-year Boroondara Community Plan,” said Cr Watson.