The City of Greater Geelong has released its Proposed Budget 2019-20.
With turnover of $426 million, the Proposed Budget delivers an underlying recurrent surplus of $1.2 million while supporting high levels of capital and non-capital projects.
It responds to growth in all areas of the municipality, allocating funds to complete a suite of major projects and progress the next wave of new and upgraded facilities.
We have taken a strategic and community-led approach to the roll-out of community infrastructure, focusing on both fast-growing and established suburbs.
There is a strong commitment to renewing our existing assets, including key heritage assets, and continuing our investment in the modernisation of Central Geelong.
Our pursuit of business improvement has also seen allocations for the new Civic Precinct and the City’s Digital Transformation strategy.
The Proposed Budget has been developed in line with the 11 strategic priorities contained in the Council Plan 2018-22.
The priorities reflect the views of the community, drawing from the 30-year clever and creative vision for Greater Geelong.
The Proposed Budget delivers the required actions to meet community need, while containing the residential rate rise to the Victorian Government’s rates cap of 2.5 per cent.
Council voted at a meeting tonight to release the Proposed Budget for public exhibition.
Key features of the Proposed Budget include:
Our fair and accessible grants program will be substantially bigger.
The unified Community Investment and Support Fund will offer more than $8.3 million – a rise of 30.1 per cent from 2018-19.
It includes a new $1m Community Support Infrastructure Fund, which for the first time will provide a specific grants process for private clubs and groups on non-Council managed land.
The Community Facility Infrastructure Grants allocation will be doubled from $1m to $2m, while a new Geelong Community Events Fund will offer $300,000 for various local events.
The increased funding pool provides greater opportunity for groups and organisations to access grants to undertake projects that benefit our local community.
Through our strong capital projects program, we will cater to the social infrastructure needs of our communities.
Major projects at Drysdale Integrated Children’s Centre ($7.5m) and Purnell Road Child and Family Centre in Corio ($6m) will be completed, providing kindergarten, day care and maternal child and health services in the growing areas.
Land will be acquired and plans advanced for new early learning centres in Bell Park – Bell Post Hill ($2m) and St Leonards ($1m).
Design and development work will be carried out on the Drysdale Regional Community and Learning Hub ($300,000), which will replace the existing library and senior citizens centre.
An allocation of $200,000 has also been made to design a permanent Lara Regional Library.
Sport and Recreation Facilities
We will complete a range of improvements on sport and recreation facilities, with a focus on improving accessibility and upgrading change rooms to encourage female participation.
Change rooms will be upgraded at St Albans Football, Netball and Cricket Club ($1m) and Barwon Soccer Club in Grovedale ($300,000), while the club room at the North Geelong Football, Netball and Cricket Club will be modernised ($700,000).
Fenced dog parks will be developed in at least two locations through a $600,000 allocation.
Major projects to offer new or redeveloped pavilions at West Oval in North Geelong ($300,000) and Herne Hill Reserve ($140,000) will be progressed.
Stage two development of the Drysdale Sporting Precinct ($150,000) – which has received government funding – has also been supported.
Work will begin on new sports pavilions in northern Ocean Grove and Armstrong Creek West ($150,000 each), with future works at Ocean Grove Memorial Reserve ($60,000) and Portarlington Recreation Reserve ($50,000) to be determined through master plans.
$150,000 has also been committed to examine the feasibility of a new aquatic facility on the Bellarine Peninsula.
The ongoing revitalisation of central Geelong remains a high priority, with several projects aimed at stimulating activity and economic growth.
The City has allocated $250,000 for a master plan to refurbish and reinvigorate Little Malop Central and its adjoining streets.
The Budget supports the beginning of a flexible parking trial in December, offering motorists free parking for 30 minutes in CBD two-hour on-street parking zones.
Alongside this trial, technology upgrades to make parking transactions more convenient – such as the ability to monitor and pay via your mobile phone – will be introduced.
There will also be improvements to the waterfront, including a $3m allocation under the City Deal to the Waterfront Safe Harbour project.
We will carry out streetscape improvements to shopping precincts in St Leonards ($400,428), Separation Street, North Geelong ($155,000) and Highton Village ($110,000).
Increased access to ultra-high-speed internet and growth in the digital economy will be made through the Bellarine Enhanced Broadband project and other Smart City initiatives ($750,000).
A scoping study for a flexible small-scale livestock and information exchange ($100,000) will be created.
New economic opportunities in the northern suburbs will be pursued through the Northern Employment Cluster ($75,000).
We are focused on improving our public and active transport and better connecting our existing transport networks.
The City will continue its lobbying efforts to secure fast rail to Geelong, with $50,000 to complete a New Spirit of Progress regional fast rail alliance strategy document.
We will continue investing strongly in our road network, with a $1.5m pledge to secure matching state government funding for the Fixing Country Roads program.
Car parking will be upgraded at Highton Bowls Club ($600,000).
We will investigate, assess and design a new foot bridge over the Barwon River ($150,000), linking West Fyans St to Barwon Boulevard.
Other highlights of our comprehensive transport plan include:
- The Gheringhap Street drainage program ($5.44m), which will reduce flooding impacts in the CBD and cut the amount of rubbish going into Corio Bay;
- Improved pedestrian links on the Bellarine Rail Trail in Drysdale ($220,000);
Shared Trails master plan and design ($200,000);
- Upgrades to bus shelters on the northern Bellarine ($100,000); and
- A study of parking and traffic demands in Barwon Heads ($80,000).
The City will continue with the hard waste service trial ($3m), which will offer residents one book-in residential collection in 2019-20.
A world-class wetland environment will be created at Armstrong Creek.
The $3.89m allocation will develop Sparrovale Wetlands, which will create a parkland and end of line drainage solution for the Armstrong Creek growth area.
A stormwater drain from Barwon Heads Road to the wetlands ($1.5m) will also be developed.
The Zero Carbon Buildings Program ($120,000) will be expanded, improving the efficiency of more council facilities through lighting and renewable energy upgrades.
Arts and Culture
We will build on our designation as a UNESCO City of Design, with $80,000 allocated to facilitate activities to support design thinking and events.
We will support creative enterprises to enliven empty urban spaces through Renew Geelong ($75,000) and help the GSODA junior theatre company ($30,000) relocate.
A new Christmas-themed event will be developed, in conjunction with the community, in Corio-Norlane ($60,000), while the Potato Shed expansion business case ($30,000) will be updated.
The City is progressing the development of its new Civic Precinct at 137 Mercer Street.
A $10m commitment has been allocated to the project, which will create a new central workplace for the City and offer a one-stop-shop for services.
The Civic Precinct is expected to be completed in 2022.
A further $4.15m will go towards improving online services and engagement with the community through the City’s Digital Transformation project.
The City is allocating further resources to respond to the increased demand for planning and engineering services.
We are also creating a Heritage Officer position to help protect our wide array of heritage assets.
These include Osborne House, which is receiving $1m for restoration works on the North Geelong site.
Fees and Charges
Season ticket prices have been frozen for users of the Kardinia and Lara pools.
12-month memberships at our Swim, Sport and Leisure Centres will also cost the same as 2018-19.
Prices for casual swim and gym visits are also unchanged.
Disposal costs at our resource recovery centre and transfer stations have increased by 2.3 per cent for car boot, utilities, vans and single axle trailers.
The new fees compare favourably to private operators in Central Geelong and remain considerably lower than other similar-sized councils.
The vast majority of animal registrations fees have been restricted to increases of 2.5 per cent or less.
We have adjusted our pricing structure for off-street parking to reflect the increased market value of our facilities.
There are more than 4700 off street car parks and 5400 on street car parks in Central Geelong, offering short and long-term options.
But demand for off-street parking is continually increasing, on the back of significant residential and commercial growth in Geelong.
Benchmarking analysis has found that off-street parking costs between $260 and $305 per month in cities such as Newcastle, Hobart and Adelaide.
Our proposed monthly fees for 2019-20 will be considerably lower - undercover reserve ($240); undercover non-reserved ($188); and off-street open spaces ($188).
Have Your Say
The Proposed Budget can be viewed online.
It can also be viewed at any of the City’s Customer Service Centres.
Submissions are invited and will be received during a consultation period that runs until Tuesday 28 May.
All submissions will be assessed at a panel hearing on 4 June, ahead of a Council meeting to consider adopting the Budget on 25 June.
The following quotes can be attributed to Mayor Bruce Harwood:
Council has worked very hard on this budget to achieve a balance between investing in new and improved community facilities and continuing to deliver our 127 services on a day-to-day basis.
Our massive capital projects spend includes a strong focus on community hubs that offer a range of vital centralised services for local young families and communities, including kindergarten and childcare.
The environment has received significant investment with the new green waste facility operational and a continued commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from council buildings.
There is also significant investment in facilities for grassroots sporting clubs, who do so much to support the physical and mental health of their members.
Our wide range of community services now includes our councillor-driven booked hard waste collection, which has been fully funded for 2019-20 as part of its 15-month trial.
The budget is open for feedback for the next 28 days and we invite everyone to read through it and provide feedback.
The following quotes can be attributed to Cr Pat Murnane, Chair, Finance portfolio:
The proposed 2019-20 budget confirms this council’s commitment to supporting our growing community by providing infrastructure and services that support health and wellbeing.
We’ve allocated $115.6 million to capital projects, with funding for a fantastic spread of new builds and upgrades across the region.
We’ve also increased our Community Investment and Support Fund by more than 30 per cent to over $8.3 million, including a doubling of the Community Facility Infrastructure Grants from $1 million to $2 million.
This will give more grassroots clubs an opportunity to access grants for important facilities upgrades. In addition, we’ve introduced a new $300,000 grants fund specifically to help our much-loved community events.
The budget also includes funding to address disadvantage in our community. Specifically, we’ve set aside $1 million to support the expansion of food relief activities in the northern suburbs. Once complete, this will be hugely important in helping those who need it most.