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Editions
August 09 Edition Cover

Budget let-down for Docklands

04 Jun 2015

By Bethany Williams

Docklands has received a disappointing Council budget result for the second year running.

And the council appears no closer to committing significant funding towards the redevelopment of Harbour Esplanade.

Released last month, council’s 2015-16 draft plan and budget includes just $1.7 million worth of capital works funding for Docklands. This follows a $2.06 million capital works commitment in 2014-15.

Included in the funding is $1 million for the implementation of the Docklands Community and Place Plan, which is allocated to a Docklands Park Play Space, Western Park Play Space and Harbour Esplanade.

Accordingly, it appears Docklands will be waiting at least another year before council invests a significant amount into the redevelopment of Harbour Esplanade.

In contrast, the council has committed $80.64 million in this year’s budget to the renewal of the Queen Victorian Market.

The 2015-16 budget also includes $150,000 for the purchase of new Christmas assets for Docklands and $110,000 for the maintenance of existing Christmas assets.

Other capital works investments for Docklands include a $100,000 recording studio upgrade at the Library at the Dock, $207,000 for public lighting maintenance and $150,000 for wharf and marina maintenance.

Outside of capital works funding, the council has also committed $280,000 funding for the community hub expected to open next to the Library at the Dock later this year.

The budget also allocates $330,000 for the continuation of the Docklands Winter Activation Program, which will see fireworks light up Docklands each Friday night during July and August.

In total, council will spend an estimated $16.2 million in Docklands over the next financial year, according to the Docklands Income Statement.

With council expecting to draw $26.8 million in revenue from Docklands in 2015-16, this will lead to a predicted surplus of $10.6 million.

However, the statement also says about $2.5 million worth of indirect costs have not been reflected in the projected expenditure, leading to an overstatement of the predicted surplus.

More broadly, 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 worth of 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 over the next 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 one of the world’s most liveable cities.

“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 public 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 http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au or posted to the City of Melbourne’s manager of governance.

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