Home News City of Ballarat 2016 Draft Budget process commences

City of Ballarat 2016 Draft Budget process commences

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THE City of Ballarat 2016/17 Draft Budget will be considered at an Ordinary Meeting of Ballarat City Council on Wednesday 11 May 2016 and will be placed on public exhibition for 28 days. Ballarat Mayor Cr Des Hudson said this year’s draft budget is the final budget for this Council prior to the 2016 Ballarat City Council election.

“Council’s final agenda was set out in the 2015/16 Budget and is being delivered during our remaining period in office,” he said. “The biggest challenge for this year’s budget consideration is the fact the Essential Services Commission has not yet notified Council in relation to our submission for an exemption to the 2.5% rate cap.”

Each year, Council is required by legislation to advertise its draft budget for 28 days and adopt it by 30 June.

Given the ESC is yet to noti fy Council about its decision, Council will provide four possible versions of its 2016/17 Draft Budget:
1. Full rate cap exemption application granted, resulting in a 3.7% rate rise
2. Rate cap exemption application not granted, resulting in a 2.5% rate rise draft budget
3. Partial rate cap exemption application granted in relation to infrastructure funding, resulting in a 3.03% rate rise
4. Partial rate cap exemption application granted in relation to Development Contribution Plan funding, resulting in a 3.17% rate rise “Council is exhibiting four possible draft budgets, which is highly unusual. We would prefer to tell the community which of the four options would be applied,” Cr Hudson said. “Clearly this is not an ideal situation. We would obviously prefer to have clarity about our proposed rate rise.”

“Council hopes the ESC will make a decision about Ballarat’s proposed rate rise at some point during the draft budget exhibition period. If this happens, Council will withdraw the three invalid budgets and will get on with finalising our 2016/17 Budget in consultation with our community.” The 2016/17 Draft Budget continues the clear direction and principles laid out in the Council Plan 2013-2017. The current Council established the plan in 2013. The plan outlines the projects and services this Council has committed to delivering to the community. City of Ballarat Interim CEO Frank Dixon said this year’s draft budget continues Council’s strong focus on maintaining Ballarat. “We are continuing to take charge of maintaining Ballarat. We need to take care of what we have – our roads, our buildings, our parks and gardens, and sporting and recreational facilities,” Mr Dixon said.

“We are making key investments to keep our city up-to-date and well placed for future growth, which means putting extra money into core infrastructure.” “If Council were to receive the full rate cap exemption it would propose a 4% increase in core capital investment, which is a key feature of this year’s budget. If no exemption is granted, Council would propose to reduce the core capital works by $1.033 million.”

Proposed Maintaining Ballarat projects include: • $2.7 million to maintain Council buildings • $10 million for roads maintenance • $210,000 for bridge repairs • $1.02 million for city presentation projects including street furniture, city entrances, street irrigation and landscaping, public place recycling and bus shelters • $222,000 for public art and restoring city monuments • $348,000 for neighbourhood playgrounds • $337,000 for neighbourhood parks

This year’s proposed budget continues the delivery of fundamental services for Ballarat.

Frank Dixon said Council has locked in the necessary expenses to run its more than 100 services. “This budget delivers all the services the community needs and uses every day including road maintenance, libraries, immunisation and waste collection. We know these services are important to residents and they are the core work of Council,” Mr Dixon said. Proposed Servicing Ballarat projects include:
• $13.63 million for road construction and renewal, including $2 million for rural roads
• $1.54 million for drainage projects
• $1.65 million for Ballarat’s three libraries and outreach service
• $1.148 million for Bicycle Strategy projects, bicycle paths and footpaths
• $200,000 maintained for additional funding for community events including Christmas and Winterlude
• $300,000 to the City of Ballarat Community Impact Grants Program
• $375,000 to the Township Empowerment Programs

Frank Dixon said this year’s proposed budget continues the hard work of catering for growth in Ballarat, including stimulating job creation and a stronger economy. “The 2015/16 Budget was the result of extensive State Government lobbying, which secured $53 million to build a better Ballarat. These projects commenced in 2015/16 and will be finalised during 2016/17,” Mr Dixon said.

The following major projects will be completed in 2016/17 in partnership with the State Government:

Ballarat West Employment Zone
• $5 million – City of Ballarat
• $25 million – State Government

Ballarat Sports and Events Centre
• $5 million – City of Ballarat
• $9 million – State Government

Lucas Community Hub
• $2.65 million – City of Ballarat
• $1.6 million State Government

Eureka Stadium
• $15 million – State Government

CE Brown Reserve Clubrooms
• $2.5 million – State Government

In addition, the City of Ballarat will again invest more than $4 million in sport and recreation projects. Frank Dixon said this year’s draft budget highlights Council’s ongoing dedication to the Clean Ballarat program, which will provide an integrated approach to the city’s environmental initiatives. “Clean Ballarat involves looking at how we manage and deal with the city’s waste as well as innovative solutions to our water and energy use,” Mr Dixon said. Clean Ballarat projects in the 2016/17 Draft Budget include:

• $2.32 million for waste and recycling services and programs

• Introduction of a green waste service

• $25,000 to replace street lighting with low energy use light fittings as part of a long term transition project This Council set a financial strategy at the start of its term with the objective of minimising rate increases and providing certainty around rates.

The strategy has enabled Council to remain in a sound financial position. It has provided essential funding to deal with the issues of maintaining, building and servicing a better Ballarat, and has enabled this Council to deliver on major projects. To remain in a sound financial state following the introduction of rate capping, Council will be required to adjust future financial strategies and operations. Although Council will be able to maintain its borrowing capacity to fund major projects, it will derive less income from rates than provided for in its previous long-term strategy. The City of Ballarat has proposed a rate increase of 3.7%. This rise is a combination of the State Government’s imposed rate cap of 2.5% and Council’s requested rate cap variation of 1.2%. The increase will provide funding for infrastructure works and will cover the costs of Council’s Development Contribution Plan. Given the ESC is yet to notify Council about its decision, Council will provide four possible versions of its 2016/17 Draft Budget: Waste Management Service Charge: This charge covers both the weekly collection of household waste and the fortnightly collection and disposal of recyclables. Residential properties provided with a waste removal service will be charged a total of $292.56 per property in 2016/17.

A green waste service will be introduced from 4 July 2016. Properties included in the green waste service will be charged an additional fee of $57.25 per property. Fire Services Levy: All councils in Victoria are legislated to collect the Fire Services Levy on behalf of the State Government. This charge is required to be included in rates notices. Rates Waiver for eligible pensioners: Eligible pensioners who live alone in their own home and are solely responsible for paying their property’s rates and charges will benefit from a rebate on their residential rate bill in 2016/17. The City of Ballarat provides the rate relief to assist with cost of living pressures for older members of our community. The 2016/17 Draft Budget and Council Plan 2013-17 will be available to view from 9am on Monday 16 May 2016.

In person: City of Ballarat Customer Service Centre at The Phoenix Building, 25 Armstrong Street South and at the Ballarat Town Hall, Sturt Street.

Online: City of Ballarat website, www.ballarat.vic.gov.au Feedback must be received by 9am on Monday 13 June 2016.

All submissions will be considered at a Special Council Meeting at 7:00pm on Wednesday 15 June 2016. If requested in a written submission, a person may present their submission at the Special Council Meeting.