Council puts down a record budget

By Sean Car

The City of Melbourne has handed down a record 2021-22 draft budget of $789.9 million to help the city continue its recovery from the pandemic. 

Given the challenges imposed on the city by last year’s lockdowns, the council has impressively achieved a $31 million turnaround since delivering a $57.4 million deficit in last year’s budget. 

Despite a forecast deficit of $26.2 million, the council has delivered a record spend headlined by $244.7 million in infrastructure, as well as $4.8 million in rates discounts, which the Lord Mayor Sally Capp said would save ratepayers between $10 and $50. 

The Lord Mayor was joined by finance governance and risk portfolio chair Cr Phil Le Liu at Queen Victoria Market’s (QVM’s) new underground car park on May 25 at the Munro development to announce this year’s budget. 

QVM’s precinct renewal program is one of the winners in the council’s big infrastructure spend, with a further $50.2 million committed. The Lord Mayor’s $300 million Greenline project also received $1 million towards designs. 

The council has also included $21.5 million for bringing major events back to the city, while more than $50 million will be invested in providing core services such as waste and recycling, cleaning and graffiti removal and safety upgrades. 

Businesses will also continue to receive support through the joint $200 million Melbourne City Revitalisation Fund with the state government. 

This includes more than $800,000 for the city’s precinct associations, subsidised fees for outdoor dining, expansion of the Business Concierge program and the establishment of Invest Melbourne – a new entity which will seek to fast-track planning processes, building permits and work to attract global headquarters and research centres to the city. 

The budget also includes more than $2 million to support people experiencing homelessness in partnership with organisations like Launch Housing, Front Yard Youth Services and the Salvation Army. 

Fees and charges for more than 70 per cent of council services will not change, or will be modestly increased in line with CPI inflation. 

Parking fee revenue is budgeted at $51 million and parking fine revenue is budgeted at $39 million •

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