Budget sets framework for recovery

Published on 28 June 2021

MTH budget

The City of Stonnington 2021-22 budget sets a framework for economic and community recovery, including the creation of a $1.89m COVID recovery reserve to continue to provide targeted community support as we rebound from COVID-19.

City of Stonnington Mayor, Cr Kate Hely, said the budget reflects the impact of COVID-19 on the community and the work to come to rebuild. While continuing to provide Stonnington residents with one of the lowest rate charges per property value in Melbourne.

“One of the principles of our newly endorsed Stonnington Community Vision 2040 outlines that Stonnington’s ambition is to provide access to a variety of quality services and amenities for everyone within 20 minutes and this is a budget that positions us to embed that vision.

“Recent weeks in Melbourne and across Australia have taught us that COVID-19 is not behind us and we need to be able to continue to adapt to challenges.

“As we enter the 2021-22 budget period, Council must work to meet the short term needs of our residents while planning for the future of Stonnington.

“We need to continue our core operations, keep providing support where it is needed and look to bring people in our precincts to support our businesses.

“To support this and bolster our financial hardship support, our budget creates a $1.89 million COVID recovery reserve. This is the equivalent to last year’s 2% rate waiver being re-introduced and will allow us to provide further targeted support to our community. I look forward to working with Councillors and our community to deliver this.

“This budget continues to provide Stonnington residents one the lowest average rates charges per property in Victoria while enabling much needed capital works projects and maintaining services to support our community and ensuring Stonnington remains an amazing place to be - now and into the future.

“An analysis of 2020-21 local government budgets showed Stonnington has the lowest average rate per property of Victoria’s 79 councils when assessing rates paid on a $750,000 valued residential property. This budget maintains Stonnington’s already low rates.

“We’ve also been able to see the first benefits of the Victorian Energy Collaboration, a green power initiative in partnership with 46 other Councils across Victoria. The initial $340,000 we’ve saved will be redirected to a spring cleaning and an upkeep blitz across our shopping precincts as well as increased waste education programs.

“I’m especially pleased about this because it’s proof our commitment to sustainability and climate action can have positive economic and community benefits,” added Cr Hely.

Read more below, the full budget is being updated and will be available soon.

 

Turning a draft budget into a final budget

Consultation with community has helped shape this final budget, ensuring that we are prioritising projects and initiatives that reflect the vision of our diverse community now and into the future.

We thank the over 200 people who made submissions on the draft budget, and the 11 who presented their ideas directly to Councillors.

Changes in response to this feedback include:

  • Creating a $1.89m COVID recovery reserve to provide targeted community support as we continue to rebound
  • Bringing forward future improvement works at the much loved East Malvern Tennis Club into 2021-22.
  • Extending the discounted parking rate at Prahran Square until 1 January 2022.

Budget highlights

  • Creating a $1.89 million COVID recovery reserve to provide targeted community support as we continue to rebound.
  • An even stronger outdoor dining activation program.
  • Investment in core infrastructure, including roads, footpaths, bridges and drainage works.
  • Community building renewal, improvement works and better asset management.
  • Increasing investment in our iconic Chapel Street Precinct.
  • Improving key community assets like Harold Holt Swim Centre and Prahran Town Hall.
  • Implementing our cycling strategy.
  • Addressing the impacts of climate change.
  • Continuing investment in energy efficiency to reduce Council’s carbon emissions and utility costs.
  • Improving our parks and open spaces.
  • Modernising our customer experiences through digitisation to meet community needs and expectations.
  • Enhancing sporting and recreation facilities, especially for woman's sport.

 

Fiscal Sustainability

Maintaining a budget surplus enables us to deliver important capital works programs that provide community infrastructure and help to stimulate our local economy, and this budget will deliver a responsible surplus of $33.61m for that purpose.

This is significantly lower than previous years, highlighting the impact of COVID-19 on Council’s finances and the reality of the significant reduction in revenue that is projected to be felt over the medium term.

The impact of COVID-19 has resulted in a revenue loss of $28.1m compared to our last complete pre-COVID budget (2018-19). While we are predicting a recovery, it is expected the ongoing impact will result in a further $13.2m loss in revenue streams over the next four years.

This budget includes a rate rise of 1.5%, which has been determined by the Victorian Government as the amount necessary for Councils to maintain essential services and invest in local infrastructure.

 

What happened last year?

2020 and the early months of 2021 were a difficult time for our community and Council actively redirected resources and attention to where they were needed most.

In response to COVID-19, the City of Stonnington provided all ratepayers with a 2% rate waiver/ concession for the 2020/21 financial year.

Across the 2019-20 and 2020-21 financial years we invested over $11m in supporting our community from the impacts of COVID-19. This included: waivers, grants and refunds for businesses, an innovative outdoor dining program, waiving fees in some of our car parks, mental health programs, assisting sporting clubs and local groups to adapt, helping owners corporations ensure high rise accommodation buildings were safe for residents, providing food and support packages to the most vulnerable members of our community and maintaining crucial programs like early education and maternal child health during lockdown.

This budget reintroduces that 2% alongside this year’s 1.5% increase.

The average 3.5% increase per household will be: $51.66 dollars per annum or 99 cents per week.

 

How we stack up

This budget continues to provide Stonnington residents one the lowest average rates charges per property in Victoria while enabling much needed capital works projects and maintaining services to support our community and ensuring Stonnington remains an amazing place to be - now and into the future.

An analysis of 2020-21 local government budgets showed Stonnington has the lowest average rate per property of Victoria’s 79 councils when assessing rates paid on a $750,000 valued residential property. Compared to similar neighbouring Council areas, the City of Stonnington has very low rates and this budget will maintain this.

Rates comparison v4

Learn more at knowyourcouncil.vic.gov.au.

 

Will my rates go up?

Your rates could increase by more or less than someone you live near because rates are affected by changes in the value of your property.

The key issue in determining your share is how your property value has moved in comparison to the average movement of properties in Stonnington:

  • If the market value of your property has increased by more than the City of Stonnington average, your rates will increase by more than the budgeted rate rise.
  • If the market value of your property increased in value by less than the City of Stonnington average, your rates may decrease overall.

As an example, because of the reduction in value of commercial properties – the average rates of a non-residential property will go down on average by 3.08% ($62.86). Please note this is the average change across all Stonnington suburbs, your property will be different.

 

Why do we need a surplus?

Surpluses are used by the City of Stonnington to fund capital works programs such as roads, footpaths and drainage works, creating new sporting infrastructure and improvements to our parks, gardens and open spaces.

This year’s surplus of $33.6m will help fund an important capital works programs that includes:

  • Roads, footpaths, bridges and drainage works ($16.6m)
  • Community building renewal and improvement works ($16.9m)
  • Land improvements works relating to parks, open space and recreation renewal and improvement projects ($16.2m)

Highlights of this program are:

  • Strategic property acquisitions to increase open space within our community ($10m)
  • Harold Holt Swim Centre improvements ($1.4m)
  • Chapel Street streetscape transformation ($3.3m)
  • Toorak Village streetscape improvements ($1m)
  • Mount Street masterplan implementation ($0.8m)
  • Forest Hill masterplan implementation ($1.5m)
  • Energy efficiency implementation to further reduce Council's greenhouse gas emissions and utility costs ($0.6m)
  • Multipurpose indoor sports facility ($7m)
  • Stonnington cycling strategy implementation ($0.8m) - including on-road cycling projects ($0.2m)
  • Charles Lux Pavilion redevelopment (consistent with Stage 3 of Toorak Park & Victory Square Master Plan) ($2.4m)
  • East Malvern Tennis Clubroom urgent maintenance ($0.1m)

The capital works budget also includes some money held over from last financial year that was not spent due to the impact of COVID-19.