Council releases balanced Proposed Budget 2021-22

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

An historically low rate rise and major community infrastructure investments are at the centre of the Council’s Proposed Budget.

Council tonight released the Proposed Budget 2021-22 which balances fiscal responsibility, policies and funding to support individuals, business and sectors hit hard by COVID-19, with a strategic plan and investment to meet population growth demands across the region. 

The Proposed Budget freezes many fees and charges at pre-pandemic levels in 2021-22 and allocates $379 million over two years to deliver the region’s largest ever capital works program.

It commits $687 million over four years in investment for community facilities such as shared trails, aquatic and sporting facilities, community centres and public open space.

The Proposed Budget has been informed by Council’s new Our Community Plan 2021-2025, which sets strategic directions for sustainable growth and development, a strong economy, a healthy, caring and inclusive community, and a high-performing Council and organisation.

Greater Geelong Mayor Stephanie Asher said Council was confident the Proposed Budget would ensure the Council was well-placed to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead.

This Budget has been carefully developed alongside our four-year Council plan to ensure our investments align with our strategic direction, reflect what the community is telling us and put the community’s health and wellbeing at the heart of everything we do.

We are delivering this fair and responsive budget against the backdrop of one of the toughest years in living memory.

It strikes the right balance between locking-in financial sustainability and directing investment towards community infrastructure to support liveable and sustainable communities, while recognising COVID-recovery support remains an essential priority.

Commercial fees are being frozen in the following areas: Swim, Sport and Leisure centres, Community Fair Play seasonal hire, golf, community halls, Breamlea Caravan Park, National Wool Museum and other building permit fees.

Finance Portfolio Chair, Councillor Anthony Aitken, said the Council was determined to cap the total rate rise at 1.5 percent, despite the challenging financial operating environment.

Council faces many significant challenges when setting its budget.

Two of the major challenging areas are that last year’s COVID-19 recovery Budget caused the City to operate with a major deficit, and a second challenge is ageing infrastructure across the whole municipality.

I am proud we have struck the right balance in our fiscal responsibilities as Councillors. We are returning the Council Budget to surplus in 2022-23 and we are announcing the start of an unprecedented asset renewal program with this budget.

Over the next four years we are investing heavily in renewing assets in the city from Anakie to Grovedale, from St Leonards to Ocean Grove and reducing the asset renewal gap, while investing in our new communities like Armstrong Creek.

This is a budget that repairs the City’s financial position with a commitment to return to surplus and shares asset renewal and investment across the whole municipality.

COVID-19 has had a major financial impact on City operations and substantial funds were redirected to essential community support, but Council has brought the budgeted $24.6 million deficit for this financial year to under $20 million.

As part of a financial plan that projects the budget returning to surplus from 2022-2023, this Budget forecasts a proposed deficit of $7.9 million in 2021-2022.

This fiscal responsibility has been supported by Council’s Expenditure Review Panel, which made recommendations, including ideas informed by the community, to deliver ongoing operational efficiencies.

Savings of $700,000 are included in the Proposed Budget 2021-2022.

With the exception of the specific COVID-19 response grants, the Council’s extensive array of funding opportunities through the Community Grants program has been maintained.

Following the development of the Sustainability Framework, the Council is investing more strongly in environmental grants.

The Environmental Sustainability Grants stream has grown by $80,000 to $150,000.

There is also a new Community Climate Action fund, providing $100,000 in funding to help us become a zero emission, climate-ready region.

Residents experiencing financial difficulties as a result of COVID-19 are encouraged to contact the City to discuss potential arrangements that suit their individual circumstances via [email protected] or call 03 5272 5272.

View the Proposed Budget 2021-2022 and draft Our Community Plan 2021-2025 online. Hard copies are available upon request.

Submissions are encouraged and will be received until Tuesday 25 May 2021.

Page last updated: Wednesday, 28 April 2021