Market renewal at the centre of council budget

The City of Melbourne has reaffirmed its commitment to the redevelopment of the Queen Victoria Market (QVM), committing $80.64 million in its draft budget last month.

Council’s budget commitment includes $76 million for the July 1 settlement of the Munro site it purchased last year and a further $4.64 million towards the Queen Victoria Market renewal fund.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said the QVM renewal project was the “cornerstone” of the 2015-16 budget.

“This underscores council’s strong commitment to the largest project we have ever undertaken and our ability to deliver it,” he said.

The council predicts underlying surpluses of $42 million from the 2016-17 and 2017-18 budgets and has already committed these funds to the renewal project.

With the project tipped to cost up to $250 million, the council says it is already preparing to allocate more than $130 million of the required funds.

“This represents a significant down payment on the renewal and should give QVM traders, customers and the broader community confidence that council is committed to this major project,” the Lord Mayor said.

“We have just completed our third round of community consultation on the market renewal and are in the process of incorporating the feedback from more than 4300 people.”

According to the Lord Mayor, depending on the project scope, the QVM renewal project will result in up to 9000 new jobs at the market and thousands of construction jobs.

Other projects funded in the budget include $200,000 towards Walking Plan projects to improve pedestrian safety and connectivity in the central city and $1.6 million to upgrade streetlights to more energy-efficient LED lights.

The council has also budgeted for a $221,500 facility upgrade at the City Library.

The 2015-16 budget includes an underlying surplus of $9.3 million, which council says will be achieved by containing operating costs while, at the same time, delivering an $85.1 million capital works program, more than $40.5 million in promotion and events and $55.2 million in community services.

The budget also revealed a 3.6 per cent increase for ratepayers, which will generate an additional $8.71 million for the council during the 2016-17 financial year.

According to Cr Stephen Mayne, the rate rise was one of the lowest in the state and was reasonable if Melbourne was to maintain its position as a liveable city.

“Well-functioning cities need strong investment,” Cr Mayne said.  “We’re mindful of the impact rate rises have on our ratepayers and considerable deliberation goes into determining what we need, and how we spend what we have, to ensure we keep rate rises to a minimum.”

“Despite the economic challenges of our time, we are keeping underlying cost increases contained to 1.7 per cent – significantly lower than the forecast 2015-16 inflation level of 2.75 per cent.”

The City of Melbourne’s Draft 2015-16 Annual Plan and Budget is available for inspection until June 5 at a range of locations including the Town Hall Administration Building and the City Library.

Submissions on the draft plan and budget can submitted online at www.melbourne.vic.gov.au or mailed to the City of Melbourne’s manager of governance.

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