The City of Whittlesea received 23 community submissions in response to its draft budget, with a focus on roads, parks, supporting businesses and events.
Chair administrator Lydia Wilson said the $297.06 million budget included an operating budget of $245.39 million and a capital works program of $51.67 million to deliver new and improved infrastructure and upgrade roads and facilities across the city.
“Our community told us they would like us to invest in local roads, parks and open spaces as well as supporting local business and providing an opportunity for jobs growth,” she said.
“And they highlighted the importance of local festivals and events, increasing kindergarten spaces and addressing needs that have arisen out of the pandemic.
“Our budget also supports local community groups who have been impacted by cost increases due to the pandemic.
“We have allocated an extra $140,000 to support local community led events.
“Of this, an extra $20,000 will go to the Whittlesea Agricultural Show, bringing total contributions to $40,000, and an extra $20,000 to the Whittlesea Country Music Festival, bringing total contributions to $50,000.
“[There will also be] $100,000 made available to community event organisers through council’s community events grant program.”
Ms Wilson said council’s budget had been responsibly developed to ensure it could respond to community needs both now and into the future, while maintaining a strong long-term financial position.
“It is challenging to develop a budget that delivers for today while ensuring the council will be in a financial position to provide the infrastructure and services needed to cater for significant population growth in the future,” she said.
The City of Whittlesea is expected to grow by 62 per cent between now and 2040, compared to the state average of 25 per cent.
“We’re confident this budget balances these competing priorities and reflects our community’s priorities,” she said.
The capital program is a reset in the context of a post-COVID environment, which addresses industry-wide delays, construction supply issues and price increases.
“We are working hard to ensure we deliver the most critical new projects but also that we have a strong pipeline of shovel-ready projects to maximise opportunities for grant funding,” Ms Wilson said.
“Our committee of council listened to submissions for the budget and as a result have added $100,000 for works at Sycamore Recreation Reserve BMX track.
“I would like to thank all those who took to the time to provide a submission, we will be writing to every person to advise of the outcomes.”
Average rates in 2022-23 will increase by 1.75 per cent, in line with a rate cap set by the State Government.
Mindful of the impacts of the pandemic on the cost of living, council will continue to subsidise waste charges for the next four years, with a proposed increase of 13.8 per cent in 2022-23.
Council’s anticipated budgeted cash result is $14.28 million, which is proposed to be transferred into a new Regional Sports and Aquatic Fund to help fund the delivery of a new state-of-the-art centre to support the community to lead healthy and active lifestyles.
Highlights of City of Whittlesea’s 2022-23 budget:
- Completion of Mill Park Basketball Stadium redevelopment
- Completion of Mernda Social Support Centre
- Continue improvements to Whittlesea Public Gardens, which will include a skate park, rock climbing wall, basketball courts, barbeque and shelter area and a car park
- Construct a basketball court, shelter and social gathering spaces and upgrade paths at the western end of Norris Bank Reserve, Norris Bank Tennis Courts Redevelopment (design)
- Start designing the Patterson Drive Community Centre/Kindergarten in Donnybrook
- Start foundational infrastructure for development of the Quarry Hills precinct including drainage and trails
- Start construction of a new playground, shelters and a multipurpose court at Kelynack Reserve
- Street light bulb replacement program
- Ongoing programs to upgrade playgrounds and general landscapes
- Implementation of Greening Whittlesea including tree planting programs.