Have your say on proposed Council Plan 2018-22 and Budget 2018-19

Wednesday, 2 May 2018 7:59 AM

The proposed Council Plan 2018-22 is a genuine reflection of the views of the community and outlines 11 key strategic areas of focus as we continue our efforts to realise the community's long-term clever and creative vision.

Have your say

The proposed Council Plan 2018-22 and Budget 2018-19 are now open for public feedback. The deadline for public submissions is 5:00pm on Tuesday 29 May 2018.

The Council Plan will be achieved through a combination of direct funding and advocacy with some of the key priorities funded in year one of the plan as part of the proposed Budget 2018-19.

The 11 key strategic priorities outlined in the proposed Council Plan are:

  1. improved health and safety of the community
  2. informed social infrastructure and planning
  3. a more inclusive and diverse community
  4. planned sustainable development
  5. effective environmental management
  6. vibrant arts and culture
  7. integrated transport connections
  8. a thriving and sustainable economy
  9. growing tourism and events
  10. innovative finances and technology
  11. organisational leadership, strategy and governance.

The proposed Budget 2018-19 has been informed by the key strategic priorities outlined in the Council Plan and in response to several challenges including unprecedented population growth, ageing infrastructure, the financial constraints of the State Government rate cap, and the impact of the worldwide recycling crisis.

The proposed budget, in response to the Council Plan and to the challenges faced by the region, demonstrates a commitment to responsible financial management, service planning and business improvement.

Key features in the proposed budget

A strategic approach to prioritisation and development of community infrastructure. Provision is made to spend $78 million on community facilities and infrastructure. Some of the more significant projects in the 2018-19 budget are:

  • completion of the new Early Learning Centre in Highton
  • commencement of the new Drysdale Child and Family Centre
  • commencement of Purnell Road Child and Family Centre
  • additional funding for continuation of detailed design for Northern ARC Health and Wellbeing Hub
  • completion of new Community Complex in Armstrong Creek East
  • completion of land acquisition for new Sparrovale Wetlands in Armstrong Creek
  • completion of stage two of the Leopold Community Hub
  • completion of new waste disposal cell at Drysdale landfill
  • an additional $1 million has been allocated for core infrastructure renewal projects including road rehabilitation $0.75 million (road reseal, asphalting), kerb and channel renewal $0.15 million, and the drainage program $0.1 million.

A renewed focus on community priorities

The budget proposes spending $3.6 million on priorities identified by the community throughout the Council Plan process. A master plan of Greater Geelong and Bellarine Shared Trails, preservation of rural and coastal environs, Goldsworthy reserve track renewal, assistance in establishing a new food relief centre in Geelong, exploring sites for a new Grovedale Men's shed and a host of other initiatives fall within this category. 

Continued investment in the redevelopment of central Geelong

Provision in the budget has been made for the continuation of the partnership with the Geelong Authority in planning and developing central Geelong. This includes the continuation of the Green Spine project, renewal works proposed on Eastern Beach promenade, and the commencement of the large Gheringhap street drainage project. The City will continue to roll out its smart city program of upgrading parking and information services within central Geelong. A new lighting program is also being investigated.

Fair and transparent unified grants program

Introduced in 2017-18, this grants program will be continued in 2018-19 with $6.3 million set aside for distribution. This amount includes continuation of major contributions to the Geelong Art Gallery ($1.26 million operations and $35,000 to continue support for Archibald Prize) and Geelong Major Events ($1.23 million plus $420,000 to support the Avalon Air Show).

Investment in business productivity improvement

The budget provides for commencement of the City's Civic Accommodation Project and a further investment of approximately $2 million in upgrading and improving the City's information technology – which includes upgrades to assist the community to more easily communicate and transact with the City.

The proposed budget achieves a surplus on recurrent activities (underlying result) of $2.3 million. A capital works program has been developed which includes $104.2 million plus $48 million of works carried over from 2017-18 and $24 million forecast to carry over into 2019-20.

The capital program is supported by new loan borrowings of $14.9 million with deferred loans from 2016-17 of $27.1 million; a total loan borrowing program of $42 million in 2018-19. Council will be repaying $9.7 million in loans in 2018-19 so the projected debt at June 2019 is to be $80.6 million.

The Rating Strategy responds to the 2018 revaluation which has seen the average residential property value increase from $403,091 to $481,846 or 19.6%. The 2018-19 rate cap on total rates revenue has been applied at Ministerial directive of 2.25% but the fluctuations in valuation of properties throughout the municipality will mean that the 2.25% will not be the uniform increase for many.

The rates assistance waiver has been reviewed in response to the 2018 revaluation impacts where a significant number of properties increased in valuation by more than double the average. The valuation threshold has therefore been lowered from 50% valuation increase to 45% valuation increase in order to be available to a greater number of residents impacted by the revaluation. The rates assistance waiver is by application and is subject to an income test.

A key component of the Rating Strategy this year is the recycling and waste service charge which has shown an increase of 11.5%. This covers the new and increased processing costs for recyclable material, as a result of the global recycling crisis, and other normal cost increases.

A new hard waste collection will be introduced in 2019 at a cost of $6.80 per property which will take the 2018-19 service charge to $316.90. (Council's current waste collection service charge at $278.05 can be compared to neighbouring local government areas - 2017-18 Surf Coast $379, Colac Otway $298, and Golden Plains $252).

Public submissions on the proposed Council Plan 2018-22 and Budget 2018-19 close at 5:00pm on Tuesday 29 May and a panel will be convened to consider submissions and to make any necessary recommendations for changes to the proposed Council Plan and budget which will both be considered for adoption at a Council meeting on 26 June.

Councillor Bruce Harwood - Mayor
The Council Plan 2018-22 has a very heavy community fingerprint upon it. As Councillors, we have listened to the ideas and concerns of our community and this document is a genuine reflection of their views.

The Council Plan 2018-22 is informed by the community’s long-term vision for a clever and creative region and sets out achievable and deliverable priorities to help us take steps towards that long-term vision.

Both the Council Plan 2018-22 and the Budget 2018-19 show that the Councillors are listening closely to their community and delivering on the things that matter to them most. A renewed focus on community priorities is embedded in the budget through Councillor-identified priorities and through applications to be funded by the Community Support and Infrastructure Fund.

There are so many great initiatives in this Council Plan and budget that it is difficult to cover them all, but following are some of the highlights. We’ve allocated a $3 million forward commitment to landscaping and parklands in the public realm surrounding the future Convention Centre as well as $3.4 million on central Geelong improvements including smart city design features through lighting and CCTV. Of course, the work on the Green Spine continues and work will commence on the $8 million Gheringhap drain that is a vital piece of any future city redevelopment work.

Residents will be pleased to see the hard-rubbish collection that so many have requested will commence on a trial basis in the next financial year.

One of our greatest challenges is the global recycling crisis brought about by China’s national policy. Whilst we have had to raise the waste levy to accommodate this, it is worth noting that all councils are impacted by this change and additional cost.

Consolidation of the City’s administrative offices is planned and will allow for great gains in productivity and efficiency. Having everyone in the one building and incorporating more contemporary work processes will save the community over $1 million each year in operational costs.

Other highlights include the completion of important social infrastructure such as the new Early Learning Centre in Highton, the new Hendy Street Child and Family Centre, the new Rosewall Community Hub and the Armstrong Creek Neighbourhood Centre and Community Pavilion just to name a few.

We will also continue the planning process for the Northern and Western Geelong Growth Areas, seek expressions of interest for a Mineral Spa and Wellness Centre in central Geelong, implement the Agribusiness Plan, and deliver the final drawings and approvals for an Underwater Sculpture Park on the Bellarine.

We invite the community to read the proposed Council Plan and Budget and to provide online or written submissions if they would like to see any changes. We also look forward to speaking with members of the community as we host a series of Councillor roadshows to explain the priorities outlined in the Council Plan.

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Page last updated: Wednesday, 23 May 2018