Council has outlined its projects and goals to help guide the community recovery from COVID-19 in its annual Budget and Council Action Plan for 2020-21.
Council's draft 2020-21 Council Budget, Council Plan and Long-Term Financial Plan (2020-21 to 2029-30) for community consultation until midnight, Wednesday, 22 July.
Yarra Ranges Mayor, Richard Higgins, said the draft budget had been developed around supporting the community recover from the COVID-19 pandemic with a number of significant measures introduced to assist all community members, including assisting property owners with rates.
“We know that this year has brought unprecedented change and disruption across Australia with the COVID-19 situation, and that many people in our community are struggling financially.
“We’re taking a different approach to rates this year, in response to the significant impact of the pandemic. While we’re increasing rates at two per cent this year, in line with the State Government rate cap, we will be giving ratepayers a COVID-19 Rates Relief Assistance Credit for any increase in their general rates from last year.
“Put simply, this means that you won’t pay any more in general rates than you did last year, and some households will pay less.
“By increasing our rates and issuing a credit, we position our Council to be able to continue to invest in services, programs and building works to benefit the community in the long-term, while supporting community members doing it tough this year.
“We’ve have also expanded our rates financial hardship eligibility, so any ratepayer in Yarra Ranges can apply for assistance, through a payment plan or deferring their rates payments for up to a year.
“I’m also pleased to announce that we’ve set aside a dedicated COVID-19 Community Recovery Fund of over $4 million for the coming year, which will be used to help the community get back on track.”
In addition to focusing on providing relief to the community due to COVID-19, this budget will also continue to deliver on the over 120 services and initiatives that are contained in the 2017-2021 Council Plan.
The draft 2020-21 Budget includes spending on services of $3.9 million for libraries, $2.0 million for public pool maintenance, $7.7 million for aged and disability services and $3.9 million for immunisations and Maternal and Child Health services.
In the Capital Works Program, Council will spend $13.6 million on roads, $3.1 million on footpaths, $1.1 million on drainage, and $21.9 million community facilities.
Cr Higgins encouraged community members to read the draft Budget, Council Action Plan and Long-Term Financial Plan and share their thoughts.
“These documents set our priorities for the coming year and beyond – all of our priorities and major projects are there in black and white,” he said.
“This is also our last Council Action Plan for this election cycle, where we look at the goals we set for our four-year term and map the way forward for the next Council.
“I strongly encourage community members to have a read through the documents and share their thoughts with us.
“Your submission can be as long or as short as you’d like – we want to know what you like and what you think might need work, so we can ensure our budget is the best it can be.”
Submissions on the budget documents close at midnight on Wednesday, 22 July, with a Delegated Committee of Council to hear submissions at a public meeting on 28 July 2020.