BUDGET 2024/25 DEVELOPMENT - UPDATE
Budget consultation occurred throughout October and November last year. It followed the announcement that the City of Ballarat was changing its budget engagement processes in which there would be a singular round of consultation ahead of the 2024/25 budget development process instead of the previous two rounds of consultation — one prior to the development of the budget and one following its development.
The comprehensive, earlier engagement period was designed to improve upon past engagement processes to ensure Council is better informed of residents’ priorities within the context of the Council Plan 2021-2025 prior to beginning the development of the annual budget.The new budget engagement process will also allow Council officers to present the budget to Councillors at the May Council Meeting — a month earlier than previous years.
The October consultation resulted in improved levels of engagement, with the following themes emerging out of the engagement process:
- Increased investment in road maintenance
- Improvement of cycleways and footpaths
- Increased investment in climate change
- Improved waste management and recycling
- Increasing investment in recreation and sporting facilities
- Improved town planning / reducing urban sprawl
- Increased investment in Council buildings
The feedback received from the community was presented to Councillors in December 2023, and Council officers are now working through the process of developing a budget for Council to review and consider, including preparation of business cases relating to feedback received.
A review of the City of Ballarat’s 2023/24 year to date financial performance was undertaken in January and will be presented at the 28 February Council meeting. This financial performance review ensures the Council’s financial position is consistent with the objectives set out in the 2023/24 budget and long-term financial sustainability objectives, and will lay the foundation for the 2024/25 budget.
The budget will be reviewed and workshopped by Councillors during March and April, and is scheduled to be considered for adoption at the May Council meeting.
To prepare a balanced budget, we need to ensure it can fund the core services and strategic objectives contained in the Council Plan, along with any additional initiatives.
This will require Council to consider such variables as borrowings, cost efficiencies and the level of revenue we are able to raise, given the Minister for Local Government has set the rate cap for the 2024/25 financial year at 2.75 percent.
For more information about the preparation of the Annual Budget, visit the Budget page on the City of Ballarat website.
WHAT IS THE BUDGET?
The Budget is a rolling four-year plan outlining the financial and non-financial resources that Council requires to achieve the strategic objectives described in the Council Plan 2021-25.
HOW IS IT DEVELOPED?
The development of the Annual Budget is heavily influenced by the goals and objectives set out in the Council Plan 2021-25 and the strategies and plans Council have adopted. The Council Plan is developed in consultation with the community every four years.
The diagram below depicts the Integrated Planning and Reporting Framework that applies to local government in Victoria. At each stage of the framework there are opportunities for community and stakeholder input. This is important to ensure transparency and accountability to both residents and ratepayers. The timing of each component of the framework is critical to the successful achievement of the planned outcomes.
WHAT PROJECTS ARE COUNCIL CURRENTLY DELIVERING AND PLANNING?
Although councils have a legal obligation to provide some services — such as animal management, local roads, food safety and statutory planning — most council services are not legally mandated. This includes some services closely associated with councils, such as libraries, building permits and sporting facilities. Further, over time, the needs and expectations of communities can change. Therefore, councils need to have robust processes for service planning and review to ensure all services continue to provide value for money and are in line with community expectations. In doing so, councils engage with communities to determine how to prioritise resources and balance service provision against other responsibilities such as asset maintenance and capital works. Click here to view the projects the Council is currently delivering and planning.
HOW ARE THESE PROJECTS AND SERVICES FUNDED?
Revenue to fund our services is raised via rates, user fees, government funding and other categories as demonstrated in the budgeted ratios below. Council seeks government grant funding assistance to reduce the burden on ratepayers as much as possible. Rates revenue is designed to raise adequate funds to bridge the gap after service delivery costs and capital works programs have been identified, resulting in Council delivering a balanced budget each year. The graph below shows the types of revenue available to Council and proportion of the total represented by each category.
Council faces the same environment of cost escalation pressures as experienced by the general public — the cost to deliver services and build and maintain assets across the municipality continues to increase. If we can’t increase our revenue, we would be unable to keep up with the growth within our region and maintain service quality.
WHAT DOES THE ANNUAL BUDGET NEED TO FUND?
Council is responsible for managing over $2 billion of community assets and delivering over 80 different services. The following graphic provides a general overview of what resources are required to deliver these services aligned to each of the six Council Plan Goals and manage these assets.
This is how the budget was allocated to each goal during the 2023/24 budget.
GOAL 1: Environmentally sustainable future $30m
GOAL 2: A healthy, connected and inclusive community $35m
GOAL 3: A city that fosters sustainable growth $9m
GOAL 4: A city that conserves and enhances our natural and built assets $40m
GOAL 5: A strong and innovative economy and city $21m
GOAL 6: A Council that provides leadership and advocates for its community $38m