Council budget “big on delivery”
The City of Melbourne has drafted a record $850.7 million budget for the 2023/24 financial year, despite posting an increased deficit as it forecasts a return to surplus in the 2025/26 financial year.
The council’s chair of finance, governance, and risk Cr Philip Le Liu said while it “wasn’t immune” from current inflationary pressures, the latest budget was “big on delivery”, while placing rising cost of living “front of mind”.
Headlining this year’s budget is a $247.5 million infrastructure spend, which includes a further $60 million for the renewal of Queen Victoria Market, $17 million to kickstart Greenline, and a further $28 million for the redevelopment of the Kensington Community Aquatic and Recreation Centre.
For locals in the city’s north-west, the council has included $16.5 million towards two new pocket parks, one of which will be located at Chapman St in North Melbourne, with the other located in Southbank.
Construction will also begin on 2000sqm of new open space combining Courtney and Bedford St pocket parks this financial year.
The council has also included $4 million towards its bicycle lane rollout, which will include new protected lanes along Arden St and Macauley Rd, while $6 million will be provided for the new Hawke St linear park in West Melbourne as part of the state government’s North and West Melbourne and Docklands Transport and Amenity Program.
This year’s budget also invests heavily in events ($28.2 million), libraries ($13.4 million), greening and sustainability, business support and creative industries, which includes $2 million for new public art projects.
In partnership with the state government through the $200 million Melbourne City Revitalisation Fund, the council will also establish a new creative hub at 217 Collins St in the CBD, known as “Collins Street Studio”, transforming more than 1100 sqm of office space into space for artists.
Following two years of rate relief for residents and businesses during the pandemic, and a modest increase in the 2022-23 financial year, the council will implement the Victorian Government’s rate cap of 3.5 per cent – doubling last year’s rise of 1.75 per cent.
However, the council said it would “help ease the burden on pensioners by providing a rates discount of up to $253, one of the most generous in the state”.
Despite originally forecasting a return to surplus this financial year, this has now been pushed back to 2025/26 as the council recorded an underlying deficit of $17.1 million, up from $11.3 million last financial year.
Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the budget represented a “vote of confidence in our city – building momentum by delivering today and shaping tomorrow”.
“This budget is designed to overcome the current economic challenges, while realising our community’s aspirations for Melbourne – the nation’s fastest growing capital city,” Cr Capp said.
Feedback on the draft budget can be provided via Participate Melbourne until midnight on June 8, with the final budget to be adopted by councillors on June 27.
To have your say: participate.melbourne.vic.gov.au •