Rates, waste charges up

City of Casey chair of administrators Noelene Duff PSM commented at the council meeting that the council was working in a tight financial environment.234014_04 Picture: FILE/GARY SISSONS

By Violet Li

Casey ratepayers will be subject to an average of 2.75 per cent rate increase and 5.5 per cent waste service charge increase in the next financial year, a draft budget reveals.

Casey Council adopted its draft budget report for the 2024-25 financial year at its April meeting.

The average general rate and the municipal charge will increase by 2.75 per cent in line with the rate cap set by the State Government, which signifies a drop from last year’s 3.5 per cent.

Council stated that it would continue to commit to support the community through its Hardship Policy and other relief options, including suspension of late payment interests, arrangements to pay, and deferment of legal action for ratepayers experiencing financial stress.

Casey’s waste management costs are projected to be $59.5 million, a 5.5 per cent increase on the forecast level for the last financial year. Council stated that a number of items affected the waste service charge, including population growth, consumer price index increase, the level of the landfill levy, and contractual arrangements for the transfer and processing of waste.

The draft budget outlines a total revenue of $658 million and an expenditure of $460 million, with an underlying operating surplus of $10.5 million.

Rates and charges are estimated to be $317 million of the revenue.

The operational funding is proposed to increase by 16 per cent to $66 million for the 2024-25 budget when compared with the forecast for 2023-24.

Budgets for user fees are projected to decrease by 1.5 per cent compared to the 2023-24 forecast.

The 2024-25 Capital Works expenditure is budgeted to be $107 million, with a focus on renewing and maintaining existing assets and planning for new infrastructure that supports the growing community.

It includes $15.9 million for road projects, $47.03 million for recreational, leisure, and community facilities, $8.9 million for parks, open space, and streetscapes, and $4.6 million to improve footpaths and cycleways.

The budget for recreational, leisure, and community facilities has seen the biggest increase from last year, a 142 per cent jump from $19 million to $47 million.

Key infrastructure projects for the next financial year include the renewal of the 50-metre Doveton Pool, the conversion of street lighting from Mercury V to LED, Springleaf Recreation Reserve, Hardy’s Road Family and Community Centre, the upgrade of the Tooradin Recreation Reserve Pavilion, the Strathaird Reserve Pavilion, and the Grices Road Recreation Reserve Pavilion, the implementation of the Greening Casey 10-year Planting Plan, the redevelopment of Ray Bastin Reserve, and improvements to Tyabb-Tooradin Road.

The funding for Capital Works from the State and Federal Governments is expected to increase by 155 per cent to $18 million for 2024-25, due to increased activities within recreational, leisure, and community facilities projects.

City of Casey chair of administrators Noelene Duff PSM commented at the council meeting that the council was working in a tight financial environment.

“As many of our community would understand, the State Government has an imposed rate cap on local government in Victoria, and that rate cap this year is 2.75 per cent,” she said.

“And what we do know is that so many of our costs are in far in excess of that.

“So it is a very challenging financial environment that we’re working in, particularly in a growing community and with the demands for infrastructure within this community.”

All residents are invited to view the draft budget report and make a submission up until 5pm on Wednesday 8 May 2024.   

Following the exhibition phase, all submissions will be heard at a Special Council Meeting on Tuesday 28 May and the final budget report will be endorsed at June’s meeting.

To view the draft budget, visit conversations.casey.vic.gov.au/corporatedocuments24-25