MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire Council is not allocating enough resources to cope with demand for services from population growth, according to the lobby group Committee for Mornington Peninsula.
The group’s assessment of the council’s proposed 2021-22 budget acknowledges that the shire’s our community, our connectivity, our prosperity and our wellbeing strategy is “synergetic with [our] strategic objectives in addressing disadvantage, improving accessibility, land for livelihoods and lifelong learning”.
The committee welcomed the council’s $10 million COVID-19 recovery package, particularly $2.2 million to fast track capital works for infrastructure and community connections; $2 million for business support, community recovery, events, youth and social services, and $125,000 to expedite rezoning for a Mornington Peninsula Technology Park.
But, taking the “hottest property market in 40 years … as an indicator of [anticipated] local population growth” the committee said: “We feel that the council is not accounting for any serious increased demand for public services and pressure on community assets in its proposed budget.”
The hot market, fuelled by a “considerable increase in first home buyers coming from the city to purchase houses using state and federal government grants and incentives” was accompanied by “significantly more subdivision and planning applications … and an exponential increase in dwelling density in suburban areas”.
The committee quoited a Financial Review report that said peninsula suburbs “dominated rankings for the steepest price rises” in the first quarter of 2021.
“Peninsula properties are in high demand and local agents are saying that this is coming from all demographics with no sign of a slowdown. The increase in demand extends to the high percentage quartiles of the property market in townships such as Red Hill, St Andrews Beach and Flinders, and the medium percentage quartiles in suburbs such as Hastings, Tootgarook and Rye.
“The property market boom will result in a sustained increase in local resident population.”
The committee said council’s allocation for transport and traffic management included a “marginal increase” of $178,000, while road and pathway maintenance was proposed to be cut by $377,000, with the parking enforcement budget up by $275,000.
“[We think] the council should be allocating significantly more resources to improve local roads and congestion management and make more parking spaces available to account for an immediate and projected increase in road traffic,” the committee said.
Another example of under-budgeting for service delivery was the planning scheme and applications budget’s marginal increase of $84,000 on last year “making little provision for the projected increase in demand for permit applications resulting from an influx of new residents wanting to make improvements to their properties”.
“Furthermore, the [committee] observes that council has budgeted for increased expenditure of $3.38 million on last year for waste and recycling collection services, but notes that this is mainly due to an increase in [state government] landfill levy rates and contract indexation, rather than a projected increase in demand for services.”