Have your say on the proposed budget

Friday, 12 May 2017

City of Greater Geelong Administrators today released their 2017-18 proposed budget which is based on a far more strategic approach to the allocation of City resources. 


Have your say

The proposed budget 2017–18 is now open for public feedback. The deadline for public submissions is 5pm on Wednesday 24 May 2017.


“We’ve modernised the City’s budget process and, having considered the allocation of resources in previous years and the current and future needs of our community, we’ve focused on the principles of equity and transparency to guide our decision making,” Administrator Chair Dr Kathy Alexander said. 


Key priorities for the 2017-18 proposed budget include:

  • addressing social inequity

  • revitalising central Geelong and the Waterfront

  • improving community access to grants

  • improving productivity for customers and the organisation

  • aligning assets to community needs.


Addressing social inequity: $8.12 million

“One of our biggest risks to a strong and prosperous future is social inequity.

We want money to be spent in the parts of our municipality that need it most,” she said.

“The proposed budget includes $8.12 million for the areas of Geelong that are identified in the Socio Economic Index for Areas (SEIFA) as being within the lowest 20 per cent for relative disadvantage in Australia.”


Key projects include:

  • Improving visitor services to support people with a disability to access city centre facilities

  • Planning for the redevelopment of a child and family centre in Corio.

  • Expanding community hubs in Cloverdale and Rosewall in Corio.

  • Designs for the Northern ARC (Arts Recreation and Community Hub), Norlane.

  • Creating a new synthetic pitch at Leisuretime Centre in Norlane.

  • Building a pavilion for rugby union/gridiron at Flinders Peak Reserve, Corio.

  • Redeveloping the softball pavilion at Stead Park in Corio.

  • Planning work to replace the Goldsworthy Reserve (Corio) athletics track.

  • Upgrading the netball courts at St Albans Reserve.

  • Upgrading the Newcomb and Whittington Senior Citizens Centre kitchens.

  • Improving public safety and amenity at Aldershot Reserve (St Albans Park).

  • Redeveloping Splashdown’s administration and first aid area.

  • Developing a Greater Geelong Social Equity Strategy.


Revitalising Central Geelong and the Waterfront: $3.27 million

Administrator Peter Dorling said the City was investing $3.27 million in works to revitalise central Geelong ($1.66 million) and the Waterfront precinct ($1.61 million).

“The revitalisation of Central Geelong remains a top priority for economic development and job growth,” Mr Dorling said.

“We’re progressing the Revitalising Central Geelong action plan projects to bring new people, ideas and opportunity to Central Geelong, creating vibrancy across the city day and night.”


Key projects include:

  • Progressing the Revitalising Central Geelong Action Plan projects, primarily the Johnstone Park tiered raingarden.

  • Replacement of the Eastern Beach Swimming Enclosure underwater protective bars.

  • Geelong Waterfront bay walk rebuild (between sailing school and Eastern Beach Reserve).

  • Eastern Beach Mineral Spa and Wellness Centre expression of interest.

  • Improving disability access, as well as safety repairs, at the Beach House, Eastern Beach.


Improving community access to grants: $5.6 million

“We’re enabling and enriching communities through a strengthened community grants program: the Community Investment and Support Fund,” Mr Dorling said.

“The new streamlined program will include transparent criteria and an independent assessment panel to choose projects which are aligned to the Our Future Indicators of Successful Communities.”

“We have allocated $5.6 million for community grants, of which $1m in funding will be available for capital grants, such as upgrades to clubs and community facilities. More details will be announced on this in the coming months,” he said.


Improving productivity for customers and the organisation: $1.8 million

Administrator Laurinda Gardner said the budget focused on modernising the organisation and taking a business approach to borrowing that is aligned to strategic investment requirements.

“We’re continuing our investment and further embedding organisational change to improve organisational productivity and enhance our customer responsiveness,” she said.

“A key part of this is addressing chronic under investment in our IT services as identified by an independent report.”

“We’re continuing with our complaints review panel, developing our senior leadership program and restructuring to provide a focus on governance and financial strategy.”


Key projects include:

  • Significant IT business investment.

  • New business improvement department.

  • OH&S and risk management process and system improvements.

  • Continuing the Complaints Review Panel.

  • Developing the Senior Leadership Program.

Ms Gardner said the Administrators had introduced an efficiency dividend.

”The inclusion of an efficiency dividend of $2.05 million in the 2017-18 budget represents our commitment to achieving operational cost savings.”

“We’ve retimed our borrowings to ensure we’re not paying interest on money we aren’t using. To this end, we’ve deferred 2016-17 borrowings of $28.9 million.”

Planned new loans of $10.4 million bring total borrowings to $39.3 million.

“Apart from new landfill cells, borrowings are to cater for infrastructure and services for new growth areas such as Armstrong Creek, Leopold, Jetty Road, etc,” she said.

“Project estimates have been reviewed to improve phasing of expenditure. This will ensure that carryover funds - from one year to the next that haven’t been spent - are minimised”.


Aligning the City’s assets to community needs

Dr Alexander said a new community infrastructure plan had been established to respond to the needs of a fast-growing municipality.

“Geelong is experiencing phenomenal population growth. If we keep growing at this rate we can expect an extra 30,000 people – almost the equivalent of the population of Warrnambool – in the next five years.”

“We’re moving towards multipurpose, state-of-the-art facilities located in areas of most need. This approach will improve return on investments and ensure fit-for-purpose facilities for the future,” Dr Alexander said.


Key projects include:

  • $5.27 million for community facilities, including:

    • Planning for child and family centres in Drysdale and Corio.

    • Redeveloping community hubs in Cloverdale and Rosewall.

    • Concept and schematic designs for Northern ARC project, which includes future development of Waterworld, Corio Library and Centenary Hall currently housed on the site. There’s also funding for Waterworld outdoor area and activities upgrade – due to the development of the Northern ARC project there will be a change required to these areas.

  • $10.24 million on sport and recreation facilities.

  • $35.3 million on roads, footpaths and drainage (an increase of $1 million on last financial year).

  • $2 million for building renewal works (an increase of $500,000 on last financial year).

  • $8.1 million for land acquisition for future community facilities.


Rates

The average residential rate will rise by two per cent, in line with the Victorian Government’s rate cap. This means the average household rates bill will increase by around $35 to $1,499. The average residential capital improved value of housing is $401,730 – up from $400,322 in 2016-17.

The separate annual waste collection service fee will rise by 2.8 per cent – or an extra $7.55 - which partly reflects a compulsory EPA (Victorian Government) levy.

The City’s overall operating expenditure is $414.1 million (comprising recurrent expenditure of $333 million and capital expenditure of $81.06 million), delivering a budget surplus of $900,000.


Fee increases to cover costs and ensure a ‘user pays’ system

The City’s proposed budget projects an average rise of 4.42 per cent across all fees and charges, driven by significant increases in operating costs and State Government changes to planning. The rise will result in a projected revenue increase of $2.7 million.

“More than half of this increase will cover costs from charges outside of our control, including an estimated $600,000 increase in gas costs for our leisure centres and a projected $900,000 increase in State Government imposed charges for statutory planning applications,” Dr Alexander said.

“Our services are not run on a profit-making basis; fee increases are purely to help cover rising costs associated with running these services and ensure a ‘user pays’ system, where costs are shared fairly,” she said.

Fees have been set to bring the City in line with competitors and other councils, ensuring adherence to the National Competition Policy.