Review identifies budget improvements

Monday, 23 September 2019

A Council-commissioned review has found a range of measures to improve the City’s process of setting fees and charges in its annual budget.

A report, to be presented to Council next week, proposes to improve transparency by disclosing all fees and charges in internal briefings and public Budget documents.

This would see all fees and charges published in Council’s 2020-21 budget documentation and released for public consultation.

Other recommendations include:

Improving the authorisation process and management review of fees and charges;

Amending the internal budget timetable to provide adequate time for reviews;

Developing a single report listing all fees and charges; and

Outlining a strategic direction for setting car parking fees in the Geelong CBD Parking Strategy.

The report details the findings of a review into all 2019-20 fees and charges, which determined how many had “significantly increased” without being included in the budget consultation process.

The review was requested by Council, after four higher on-street parking fees were introduced on 1 July that had not been communicated or disclosed in budget documents.

The Council held a special meeting on 4 July, where the capped on-street all-day, 3-hour and 4-hour parking fees were returned to their 2018-19 rate.

The City considered a total of 1630 City fees and charges during its 2019-20 Budget process.

The review found 46 “significant” fee increases, including the four on-street parking fees, were not communicated to the public or disclosed in budget documents.

A further 33 new fees were introduced without public notice.

These fees largely related to commercially competitive services that the City offers, such as in building and construction services, leisure centres and hiring of facilities and halls.

The fees were applied in line with the City’s existing fees and charges policy, which allows for full costs to be recovered and for competitively neutrality pricing.

The City had aimed to exhibit key changes to fees and charges in its 2019-20 Budget process.

However, it became clear that not all the key changes were communicated to the public or included in the Budget documents.

A full list of fees and charges for 2019-20 was later published on the City’s website in early July.

Council will consider the report’s recommendations at a meeting at City Hall on Tuesday night.

Director Customer and Corporate Services Michael Dugina

By not disclosing a full list of proposed fees, we did not provide an opportunity for people to have their say on the services they may use. This approach lacked transparency and is a process error that will be fixed before the 2020-21 Budget. We want to encourage the community to put forward their views on the City’s proposals. Residents can play a key role in helping us make improved decisions that reflect the best interests of the community.

 





Page last updated: Monday, 23 September 2019

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