A long-term strategic outlook with significant investment in key services and projects is how City of Whittlesea chair administrator Lydia Wilson sees the council’s draft budget 2022-23.

The budget is now open for community feedback until April 26.

The $295 million budget has proposed an investment to support local economy, as well as boosting services to respond to projections of unprecedented population growth in the municipality.

Ms Wilson said it was a challenge to manage competing interests in the budget.

She said there was a focus on responding to community needs and maintaining a strong financial position now and into the future.

“This year we are proposing a significant investment in key services and projects for our community,” she said.

“We will be upgrading local roads, parks and open spaces, delivering engaging local festivals and events and increasing kindergarten spaces, as well as responding to community priorities identified through our community plan and needs arising out of the pandemic.”

Ms Wilson said community feedback had been a strong factor in reinforcing the importance of supporting local business and providing an opportunity for jobs growth in the City of Whittlesea.

The proposed $51.57 million 2022-23 capital program has a focus on both new projects and catching up on others that were delayed due to staff and supply shortages.

“We are investing in setting ourselves up to manage [population] growth and enable us to effectively continue to delivery important services our community expects and needs,” Ms Wilson said.

“We’ll also be working on getting future projects shovel-ready to ensure we maximise opportunities to partner with other levels of government for funding.”

Council has a proposed budgeted cash result of $15 million, which is expected to be transferred into a newly created Regional Sports and Aquatic Fund to help deliver a new regional centre to support healthy and active lifestyles.

The budget also proposes an average rate increase of 1.75 per cent, in line with the State Government’s annual rate cap. Council will continue to subsidise waste charges, with a proposed increase of 13.8 per cent or $15.80.

Ms Wilson said waste service subsidies were being continued to help mitigate some costs to the community following the pandemic.

“Our waste charges remain significantly less compared to other councils who are facing similar challenges with the increasing costs of waste disposal as a result of the Victorian Government’s landfill levy and the requirement to transition to a four bin collection system,” Ms Wilson said.

A draft community action plan 2022-23 is also open for public comment, outlining 125 actions to build towards achieving the community plan and the Whittlesea 2020 goals.

To view the full draft action plan and budget, visit engage.whittlesea.vic.gov.au.

A council committee will review submissions, with the final budget and community action plan to be presented for adoption at the June 4 council meeting.