Community EngagementMaroondahUrban Sustainability

Maroondah City Council Adopts 2010-2011 Draft Budget and 2010-2014 Council Plan

By May 12, 2010May 18th, 20102 Comments

This evening Maroondah City Council met to debate the 2010/2011 Draft Budget and the 2010 to 2014 Council Plan.  The Council Plan provides an overview of priorities over the next four years to ensure that objectives can be measured and achieved, while the Council Budget reinforces the objectives specified in the four year plan, through the allocation of resources.

Council adopted both the Draft Budget and the Council Plan, which means that both documents are placed on public exhibition. Unlike State and Federal Governments, community members can formally comment on Council’s draft budget and plan through a written submission process. Furthermore these submitters can be heard at a panel hearing that will be held on Wednesday the 23rd of June, with all submissions being taken into account prior to the finalisation of both documents.

Council’s Draft Budget supports a new long-term strategy for Maroondah City Council, whereby the Council will be delivering an operating surplus within the next two years.  Previously, Maroondah City Council was operating at a deficit and was forecast to do so for at least the next five years.  A Council is like any other organisation and cannot continually run at a deficit and would have severely restricted the Council’s ability to invest in community facilities in coming years.

While the Budget maintains existing levels of service to our community, it also includes several new initiatives, including the complete rebuilding of the Ringwood Aquatic Centre into a new $48 million leisure facility. This project, the largest in the history of the City of Maroondah and its predecessor councils, will deliver a a new level of facilities within the municipality, accommodating diving, swimming, fitness and recreational water usage.  The new Aquatic Centre will reinforce Ringwood’s status as  Central Activities District and demonstrate that Council is committed to a vibrant, sustainable and accessible urban centre.

In addition, Council will undertake a structure plan for Heathmont, to protect the amenity of the area and provide certainty for the community in regard to developmental pressures.  Furthermore Council will be undertaking an assessment of community facilities, which will be completed by October.  This assessment will make it easier to identify the availability of community facilities for groups within the community, as well as any shortages of space.

The median rate increase has been estimated at $1.88 per household and while no one likes raising rates, it is critical that we have a Council that has the capacity to deliver positive outcomes for the community both now and into the future.  The Draft Budget delivers a financially sustainable and socially responsible municipality and I encourage the Maroondah community read through these documents.

Alex Makin

Alex Makin

Alex Makin is a councillor for the Mullum Ward in the City of Maroondah. Alex has been a councillor since 2005, representing ratepayers, businesses, community groups and residents. I aim to continue making a difference and welcome any thoughts you may have in regard to life, community and business in Maroondah. Phone: (03) 9870 8202 or 0408 311 645 Email: alex@alexmakin.com.au

2 Comments

  • Peter Feeney says:

    I find it a bit disappointing that you have resorted to reporting the rates increase as a weekly figure for the “median” house rather than the normal practice of quoting a percentage increase. Could that be because it sounds a lot better than saying the average rates and charges will go up by 9.8% which is way over inflation.

    I note too (by comparing to last years budget) that the greatest increase in expenditure is Corporate Services which has gone up over 20%. This would tend to suggest that no-one is addressing reducing internal costs.

    Finally although you point to a new strategy of “maintaining an operating surplus” I note that last year’s budget unders Borrowing Strategy stated “Borrowings at 30 June 2009 are $1.0m and it is planned that Council will be debt free by 30 June 2013. There are no new borrowings planned during this period” while under the same category this years states “Borrowings at 30 June 2010 are $0.7m and it is planned that Council will borrow in 2011/12 to cover the building of the new Regional Aquatic and Leisure Facility in Ringwood.”

  • Alex Makin says:

    Hi Peter,

    Thank you for your comments, the median weekly increase is a more relevant figure than the percentage increase, given that it indicates the direct cost to residents. That being said you are correct in stating that the rate increase is 9.8%, which is above the inflation rate.

    This rating strategy is due primarily to two factors:

    * The commitment to rebuild the Ringwood Aquatic Centre
    * The commitment to restore operational surpluses within the next two years

    While borrowings had been reduced, Maroondah City Council has been delivering an operational deficit, meaning expenditure has continually been exceeding income. As a result the Council had been reducing its cash reserves to an almost unsustainable position. You may recall a few years ago how the Council was selling ‘surplus land’, this revenue was used to narrow the deficit gap – rather than be invested into new infrastructure.

    Needless to say this approach is unsustainable and one which needs to stop. While I would certainly like to deliver low rates I believe it is imperative we deliver an economically sustainable Council.

    Given the opportunities that should become available in coming years, such as the new Ringwood Library complex, it is essential that Council has reserves available to invest in community infrastructure.

    Council’s new CEO is committed to undertaking an extensive review of the organisation over the next twelve months, which any savings taking effect in the 2011-2012 budget. While this review has begun it is too early to indicate the savings that can be generated.

    Thanks,

    Alex

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