Draft budget demonstrates our commitment to you

Thursday, 07 May 2020

Myself, the CEO and members of the Borough of Queenscliffe Executive Management Team were proud to release the 2020–21 Draft Budget at an innovative live presentation conducted on Council’s Facebook page this Monday night gone. Below, I’d like to share some of the highlights of this Budget, the thinking that has gone into it, and how we have been able to adapt to the economic challenges provided by the coronavirus pandemic.

Of course, both Council and our community have been impacted financially by the coronavirus pandemic and the economic effects of various response measures. This has resulted in a substantial revenue loss for Council, and has also required an increase in expenses as Council implements a number of stimulus and community support measures. Balancing these realities with the funding required to keep our essential services running has been hard, but it’s never been more important. This budget demonstrates how we’ve risen to this challenge in three ways:

First, this budget provides relief and support to those members of our community experiencing financial hardship. Residents will benefit from a partial rebate of waste charges and an expanded hardship policy. Businesses will benefit from a waiver of a number of permit fees, new business support initiatives, and a complete waiver of rent for six months to business and community tenants on Council property. These initiatives represent more than $329,000 of funding this Council has set aside in 2019/20 and 2020/21 to help our community get through this difficult time, and every dollar is a dollar well spent.

Secondly, this budget shows how we’re continuing to listen to our community. Last year, Council engaged in one of the most extensive community engagement programs every undertaken for its budget. Hundreds of residents of all ages took part, submitting thoughts and ideas for how this year's budget could help make our community better. While the developing coronavirus pandemic has limited the scope of ideas we were able to include this year, this budget includes a number of projects suggested directly by residents, including increased funding for new footpaths, an expanded weeding program and new, environmentally-friendly waste initiatives. This budget is proof of the power of effective community engagement, and I want to thank every member of our community who shared their ideas with us.

Finally, this budget is focused on completing and consolidating a number of outstanding projects Council has started over the years. This being the final year of this term of Council, it’s important for us to finish the work we started years ago, including that of major projects like the Queenscliffe Hub. While understanding that the impacts of coronavirus may challenge Council’s ability to deliver every project as originally envisioned, this budget contains a number of carry-forward line items that will allow us to complete and sign off on a number of important community assets in this coming financial year.

While the coronavirus pandemic has placed Council in a challenging financial position this year, the benefits of Council’s prudent financial management over the years has now shown its value. Years of operating surpluses and careful financial planning have left the Borough of Queenscliffe in a position to continue deliver essential services despite significant revenue shortfalls. I want to thank Council’s finance team for the extraordinary work they done over the past few months to provide us with a path through some of the most challenging conditions we’ve ever experienced.

To our community, I hope this budget demonstrates our commitment to you. By delivering support where it’s needed, continuing to improve the way we listen and respond to your ideas, and finishing the projects we’ve started, we’re setting our community on a path to get through this challenging time together. Thank you for the support, the ideas and the careful criticism you have given us over the years that has helped us draft this budget for you.