New COVID-19 support measures added to Budget

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Small business, community groups and the arts and tourism sectors will benefit from a tranche of new coronavirus (COVID-19) support measures that have been added to the City of Greater Geelong’s 2020-21 Budget.

Adopted last night by the Council, the $560 million-plus Budget sets out a strategic focus on infrastructure investment and COVID-19 support programs.

The largest capital works program in the City’s history will be delivered over the next two years, creating local jobs and stimulating building activity.

That includes $160.1 million in 2020-21 and a record $210.6 million forecast for 2021-22, which will help drive the region’s economic and social recovery from the COVID-19 emergency, while providing essential facilities for growing communities.

There is also an estimated $5.165m for a medium to long term community and economy support package that responds to the impacts of COVID-19.

The package targets some of the most impacted community and small business sectors - including central Geelong traders, tourism, arts, culture and international students - with a range of support measures and initiatives.

Among the initiatives is a commitment to maintain free parking in central Geelong 2P zones until the end of December.

The trial of 30-minute free parking in 2P zones on weekdays – which was put on hold due to the introduction of free casual parking in March – will resume 1 January 2021 and run until 30 June 2021.

Council also approved an expansion of the City’s grants program, with $250,000 allocated to deliver immediate support for at least 125 community groups.

The new suite of measures takes the value of the Council’s direct COVID-19-related economic support initiatives to more than $10.7 million.

Following 69 public submissions in relation to the Proposed Budget, the Council responded to community feedback and agreed to include funding in 2020-21 for:

  • Traffic improvement works on McKillop Street, East Geelong ($350,000);
  • Maintenance and development of a facilities improvement plan for Landy Field ($30,000); and
  • A feasibility study for the development of a Seniors Activity hub on the Bellarine Peninsula ($30,000).

To help provide this high level of support, the Budget forecasts a deficit of almost $25 million.

The deficit has been largely influenced by the receipt of a $11.85 million Commonwealth Government Financial Assistance Grant in May, instead of the forecast 2020-21 financial year.

It has also been driven by the delivery of the COVID-19 community and economy support packages, forced facility closures and restricted service activities.

However, the financial impact to the City is expected to be limited to 2020-21, with a surplus forecast to be delivered in 2021-22.

In addition to the targeted support measures, the rating system has also been made fairer by the removal of the flat municipal charge on all properties.

We have been able to keep the average residential rate rise to 1.9 per cent – coming under the Victorian Government’s rates cap of 2 per cent.

People will be able to view the final Budget at from 14 July.

Mayor Stephanie Asher

Since our draft Budget was released, we have added extra COVID-19 support measures and responded to community calls regarding road safety, recreation and sport projects. We have crafted a targeted and highly responsive Budget, which lays out a large-scale capital works program and directs support to where it is most needed. Our forecast record investment in capital works over the next two years will boost the region’s economic recovery and help support local jobs.
About half of the deficit is Commonwealth funding we received earlier than expected, which, in turn, reduces the accounted deficit in the previous year. The remainder is targeted at those sectors of the community and economy that have borne the brunt of the COVID-19 restrictions and require support to sustain and recover.

Councillor Anthony Aitken, Chair, Finance portfolio

This is a recovery Budget. It has been extremely challenging for us, because of the environment we’ve created this in, but I am very proud of what we’ve been able to achieve. We are responding appropriately to provide the support that the community needs during this unprecedented time.

Page last updated: Wednesday, 1 July 2020