Aerial photo of the Port Phillip area

At a special council meeting, Port Phillip Council has released its 2023-24 Budget and Year Three Council Plan update, which reveals a rates rise well below the forecast inflation and the Victorian Government’s 3.5 per cent rates cap. 

City of Port Phillip Mayor, Heather Cunsolo, said the average 2.8 per cent rate rise recognises cost of living pressures, from rising inflation to interest rates, being experienced by Port Phillip ratepayers.

“This is the first time we have adopted an increase below the rates cap, introduced in 2016-17. We’re doing this as we recognise many in our community are looking for financial relief,” Cr Cunsolo said.

“We carefully considered a range of options as we know there are different opinions on this complex issue. Ultimately, we decided to provide current and future financial relief this way as any further rate rise must be based on this lower figure under the rates cap provisions.”

The financial impact to the 2023-24 Budget will not be funded through service cuts. 

Unanticipated extra income from revenue streams including parking, together with continuing efficiency savings ($2.1 million), will keep Council in a position to deliver a budget benefitting current and future generations – while providing a reserve for unexpected expenses.

The comprehensive ten-year Council plan continues to roll out, with this budget providing capital project investment of $62.8 million to maintain, grow and improve community assets.

Cr Cunsolo thanked everyone who participated in the extensive community consultation on the draft budget.

“We always carefully consider feedback and a number of changes from what was consulted on in the draft budget have been incorporated,” Cr Cunsolo said.

These include a smaller reduction to the Cultural Development Fund – Projects stream which is funding for individual artistic/creative projects. 

While funding was originally proposed to be reduced from $187,000 to $100,000, the budget now provides $125,000 in funding.

Other budget highlights:

  • Rolling out the new Multi-Unit Dwelling FOGO kerbside service and communal hubs for glass and FOGO
  • Additional project investment over ten years including $25 million in provisional funding for the Elwood Foreshore Facilities Project (Stages two and three), $17 million for South Melbourne Market Connect and an extra $9 million set aside in reserve for Fishermans Bend infrastructure
  • An extra $50,000 towards Early Education Grants (worth a total of $206,000) to support vulnerable families’ access to childcare
  • Two years’ extension of the Launch Housing funding agreement ($110,000 per annum) for outreach services assisting rough sleepers and a one-off $40,000 allocation towards greater food relief in Port Phillip
  • Existing business support under the Economic Recovery Package continuing until June 2025, including ongoing activation of public spaces
  • Pensioner rates rebate increasing five per cent to $210 (Port Phillip is among only a handful of councils offering this rebate)
  • Most fees and charges increasing 3.75 per cent – some will be higher to reflect reasonable user pays charges while others will stay the same or reduce to support those who most need it or to encourage further take-up. The 3.75 per cent rise is under the 4.5 per cent inflation forecast
  • Funding to improve access for girls and women at sporting facilities including J L Murphy and Lagoon Reserve, in line with Council’s Fair Access Policy (under development)
  • Continuing to invest in implementing Council’s sustainability strategy, Act and Adapt, and taking action to address the Climate Emergency, including building a Climate Emergency Plan, reducing the impact of buildings and operations and supporting the community to take action and delivering programs to minimise climate risk in Council operations and to the community
  • Continuing the annual Greening Port Phillip Program and developing a new Urban Forest Strategy and Street Tree Planting Program in 2023-24
  • Public Space Strategy projects moving into construction in 2023-24 in its second year, including Moubray Street Community Park and Graham Street Overpass Skatepark
  • No debt, aside from some finance lease liabilities which remain as part of Council’s financing strategy

 

Featured image: Aerial photo of the Port Phillip area. Image credit: City of Port Phillip.

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