Whitehorse City Council

Budget 2017/2018

Overview

The $193 million Annual Budget 2017/2018 was adopted at the Ordinary Council Meeting on Monday 26 June 2017.

The Budget 2017/2018 will fund the delivery of services and a Capital Works Program that meets the needs of the diverse Whitehorse community.

As part of the budget, $140 million is allocated to fund the more than 100 services that Council provides, such as continued delivery of community services including home and community care, sustainability, waste and recycling, health and family services, leisure facilities, parks and libraries –to name a few.

Council will have an operational surplus and maintain a strong liquidity position, while providing funding for legislated requirements and maintaining all services at a level expected by the community.

Please find a copy here of the pdf icon Adopted Budget 2017/2018 (1.77MB).

Hard copies of the Budget 2017/2018 can be viewed at Council’s Customer Service Centres at Nunawading, Box Hill and Forest Hill, and libraries at Nunawading, Box Hill, Blackburn and Vermont South.

Rates

The average rate rise is two per cent, in line with the rate cap set by the Minister for Local Government under the new Fair Go Rates System. With this modest rate cap, Whitehorse will continue to have one of the lowest levels of rates in metropolitan Melbourne.

Capital Works

Council continues to prioritise significant funds for the renewal, upgrade and maintenance of community facilities, buildings and community assets. Some of the highlights of this year's $43.1 million Capital Works Budget include $5.7 million for the redevelopment of the Harrow Street, Box Hill car park, $4.7 million for new and upgraded community sports pavilions, $0.5 million for the refurbishment of Box Hill Library and $0.2 million to continue development of the new Nunawading Community Hub. The budget also includes $1.0 million to commence the $78 million major redevelopment of the Whitehorse Centre.

Consultation

The new budget was carefully prepared following community consultation throughout the year and is guided by priorities outlined in key strategic documents including the Council Vision 2013-2023, the four-year Council Plan, Strategic Resource Plan and other major plans and strategies. Consultations that have informed the development of this Budget include the significant Your Say Whitehorse community engagement program to develop the Council Plan 2017-2021, the 2016 Community Satisfaction Survey, consideration of prior year public budget submissions, and consultation on various Council strategies and plans.

Councillors and officers also held a number of meetings to develop this fiscally responsible budget and longer term strategic resource plan in a time of significant external and internal pressures and challenges.

Budget Principles

The following budget principles were established to guide the 2017/2018 budget process:

  • Manage operational expenditure growth to within the rates cap to preserve and maintain operational flexibility and the current capital program
  • Continued focus on business process improvement, innovation and cost saving initiatives so as to maintain and improve current service delivery standards
  • New budget initiatives require Council approval and a funding source
  • Priority be given to the renewal of existing community infrastructure
  • Additional capital items be considered in the context of the whole capital program and require a funding source or reprioritisation of current funded projects
  • Proceeds from general land sales are held in Council’s development reserve; and
  • Major community infrastructure projects require a Council approved business case that explicitly considers Council’s funding capacity and funding sources.
  • Further guidelines were prepared and distributed to all Council officers with budget responsibilities setting out the key budget principles upon which the officers were to prepare their budgets. These principles included:
  • Budget program development starts from zero
  • Expenditure increases to be supported by evidence of contractual increase or external and unavoidable price rises
  • All budgets to be supported by detailed justifications including any assumptions; and
  • Continued emphasis on the identification and inclusion of savings, efficiencies or new income streams.

Key Pressures and Challenges

In preparing this Budget, Council considered a number of external and internal influences. These include:

  • The average rate will rise by 2.0% in 2017/2018 in line with the order by the Minister for Local Government in December 2016 under the Fair Go Rates System
  • Changing community needs and expectations as a result of an ageing and increasingly culturally diverse population
  • The cost of maintaining Council’s infrastructure assets. This is to ensure that infrastructure assets are provided to support services that are appropriate, accessible, responsive and sustainable to the community
  • Cost shifting by other levels of government. Cost shifting occurs where local government provides a service to the community on behalf of the state or federal governments. Over time, the funds received by Council do not increase in line with real cost increases
  • A further 2.0% increase in the State Government landfill levy to an anticipated cost of $63.27 per tonne, representing a 603% increase over the past nine years
  • Increasing community expectations for Council to be a leader in environmental sustainability
  • Continuing low interest rates restricting Council’s ability to generate earnings on cash and investments; and
  • Enterprise Agreement wage increase of 2.0% or $26 per week, whichever is greater effective from September 2017.

Long-Term Financial Plan

Council’s long-term planning strategy is aimed at creating a sustainable fiscal environment to enable Council to continue to provide the community with high quality services and infrastructure into the medium and long term. The financial plan is a continuation of Council’s responsible financial program. It is a financial plan aimed at:

  • Balancing the community’s needs and ensuring that Council continues to be financially sustainable in the long term
  • Increasing Council’s commitment to sustainable asset renewal and maintenance of the community’s assets
  • The maintenance of a strong cash position for financial sustainability
  • To achieve efficiencies through targeted savings and an ongoing commitment to contain costs
  • Rate and fee increases that are both manageable and sustainable; and
  • Providing a framework to deliver balanced budgets including sustainable annual underlying surpluses.