The budget is a blueprint for our economic activity for the financial year and aligns with our mission to support and improve our community by empowering progress, serving with excellence, and taking care of our place.
It is also a flexible, community-driven document that has adapted to feedback by including an additional project that was suggested when the draft budget was placed on public exhibition.
Our Councillors have now endorsed a plan to bring forward $30,000 to enable design work to take place on new changerooms at Aloysius Park – another example of how we work with our community in an agile and consultative way.
The Budget takes a mindful approach to the economic stresses placed on our community by COVID-19, by keeping rates rises to a minimum. When all rates, water, sewerage and domestic waste management charges are combined, the total increase for the average residential property is 2.6 per cent, which equates to $1.37 per week.
At the same time, we’ve outlined a major capital works program worth $63M. This program will deliver important new services and facilities while stimulating major construction activity and helping to drive our local economy forward as we adapt to the challenges of the pandemic.
Also to ease the burden on ratepayers, there will be no increases to water and sewer consumption and access charges.
The latest round of COVID-19 restrictions starkly illustrates the uncertain and volatile path we’re all taking together but by providing clear, well-funded economic signposts, the budget is helping to deliver the structure we need to complete the journey.
With the effects of the pandemic in mind when planning the budget, we included several measures to help businesses and the wider community through hard times. These changes include:
- COVID-19 Residential Rates Hardship Relief Program, $150,000
- VisitAlburyWodonga Destination Marketing Activation Program, $100,000
- $0 per chair fee for outdoor dining
- $0 fees for street vending and A-frame advertising for businesses
- The waiving of lease/licence fees for community and sporting groups, and
- 0% interest on overdue rates from 1 July to 31 December 2021
Based on consultation with business and community groups, these steps are helping to ease the path through the pandemic for those doing it tough.
We’re also working to stimulate the economy in one of the best ways possible – but putting our community’s rates to work in a range of works to improve the city while simultaneously generating economic activity through capital works projects, large and small.
These will include ongoing progress on headline projects, such as the Riverside Precinct construction, but of course we’re also focusing heavily on improving roads, footpaths, water and sewerage services to keep our city growing.
While COVID-19 has thrown multiple challenges in our path, our community has shown once again that it is resilient and flexible. By adopting our new budget, we hope to help smooth the way towards full recovery when the pandemic has finally passed.
Thank you to everyone who has helped to design and deliver this budget. We look forward to working with you to implement the measures in the document, taking confidence in knowing that our strong and united community will pull together as we take the journey towards better times.