Council reveals $781 million budget with community projects prioritised

Council reveals $781 million budget with community projects prioritised
Brendan Rees

$6 million is set to be spent on creating new open spaces and greenery in North and West Melbourne, the City of Melbourne’s $781 million draft budget has revealed.

The projects are part of a $100 million “transport and amenity program” that is aimed at easing traffic impacts in the city’s north-west and Docklands when the West Gate Tunnel Project (WGTP) opens as planned in November next year.

The amenity scheme is a 50/50 funding split between the council and the state government, and includes projects to improve streetscapes, transport, and amenity of the areas expected to be affected.

While the nature of the proposed projects is yet to be detailed, the council confirmed $6 million would be spent over the next financial year including towards the Hawke St linear park, streetscape improvements to Franklin St, a shared pathway on Dynon Rd, and the Spencer St North masterplan.

As previously reported by North West City News, the amenity scheme came under criticism from the community earlier this year after residents expressed concern about how the money was being spent and allocated, and how it would address the WGTP’s traffic impacts.

The council said it was advocating for funding to be released by the state government for the Spencer St North masterplan, which it hoped would be as soon as a few months’ time.

The City of Melbourne’s draft budget was announced on May 14, which has posted a surplus of $101,000 surplus – the first time in five years.

However, rates are set to increase under the state government’s maximum 2.75 per cent rate cap in 2024-25 after being paused during the pandemic. Average rates for property owners will increase by $37.

Parking fees will go up by 10 per cent to $54 million due to more paid parking to be delivered outside of the CBD, while parking fines are forecasted to increase by 2.4 per cent to $40 million.

But in a win for the community, the draft budget will see $29.5 million to create new open spaces across the municipality including the Bedford St pocket park in North Melbourne which opens next year, complete with a barbecue and picnic area, and a play area.

Other greening projects include the Chapman St reserve, Roden St, MacKenzie St, and the Swanston St Triangle with $3.9 million allocated in the budget.

A further $23 million will be spent to complete the development of the Kensington Community Aquatic and Recreation Centre, which will open in early 2025. It will feature a 25-metre pool, three multi-purpose courts, and gym facilities.

In another major project, $1.7 million will be invested to start planning and design works for a new North Melbourne Community Centre, providing access to maternal and child health, family, youth and ageing services.

In delivering her last budget before finishing her term this year, Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the council was proud to return to a surplus budget.

 

“We’ve made prudent financial decisions to get us here – while still investing in core community services to support our growing population of residents, traders, workers, students, and visitors,” she said.

 

“Melbourne has shown great resilience and we’ve worked hard to kick-start our economy after the pandemic. It’s time to hand town a sustainable budget so council can continue doing what counts.”

Public feedback on the draft budget will be open online until June 3 via Participate Melbourne. •

 

Caption: Cr Nick Reece, Lord Mayor Sally Capp and Cr Phil Le Liu announce the draft budget on May 14. Photo: Hanna Komissarova.

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