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
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
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
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:
improvement works on McKillop Street, East Geelong ($350,000);
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 www.geelongaustralia.com.au/budget from 14 July.
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,
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.