News / Council

Parking fines set to rise as council forecasts higher budget surplus

Council allocates $5 million to new Saxon Street community hub as part of $57 million in capital works

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Mark Phillips
Friday, May 27, 2021

MORELAND City Council is forecasting a big increase in fines for parking offences over the next 12 months, adding to a hefty budget bottom line.

Income from parking fines and other infringements will grow by 35% to $9.5 million, according to the council’s budget papers as the light touch of the past two years is phased out.

The council says it has shown leniency on infringements throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but as restrictions have eased the number of cars on the roads have slowly returned to normal levels.

For that reason, the council is banking on its infringement revenue bouncing back to pre-lockdown levels. Overall income from statutory fees and fines is forecast to grow by 17% to $16.8 million.

This will help the council deliver an underlying operating surplus of $21.8 million, an increase of 10.4% from this year.

Revenue will grow by 2.1% to $243.5 million, while spending will increase by 1.8% to $204.3 million.

Almost three-quarters of all council income will come from rates, which will increase by the legislated rate cap of 1.75% to $177 million in total.

Total revenue from charges for rubbish collection will increase significantly for the second year in a row to $23.7 million. The annual cost of a 60 litre household rubbish bin will increase by 45% to $134.17, while the most common 80 litre and 120 litre bins will both rise by 11% to $275.22 and $619.25 respectively. They rose by 25% in the current financial year.

The council is planning $56.8 million in capital works, a decline of 11.3% from this year.

Almost a third of those capital works will be spent on roads, footpaths and drainage, with just under a quarter set aside for new projects, including $5 million towards the new $22.6 million Saxon Street community hub in Brunswick, $6.5 million to complete the redevelopment of Fleming Park in Brunswick East, and $3.3 million for the creation of new open space through the Park Close to Home program, including in Frith Street, Brunswick.

But the council’s ability to deliver capital projects within budget is under stress because of shortages of materials and labour which are pushing up costs.

Six projects nominated through a community consultation process will share in $462,500 of funding, including $87,500 towards the installation of 25 seats along the Merri Creek Trail.

The papers also reveal the budget is based on some heroic assumptions, not least of which is an optimistic estimate of inflation for the next year of 1.75%. With the most recent 12-month consumer price index figure of 5.1%, this is already looking wildly inaccurate.

Staff costs are forecast in the budget papers to increase by 1.9% to $100.6 million, but that was before agreement was reached with unions on a new pay deal which will deliver wage rises of between 3% and 5% this year, compared to the council’s original offer of 2%.

In a message accompanying the release of the proposed budget, Mayor Mark Riley said the COVID-19 pandemic presented the council with financial challenges in providing new and modified services to people who need it most, while dealing with reduced income.

Public consultation for the council’s 2022-23 budget has now closed and it will be adopted at the next council meeting on June 24.