NEW bike tracks and an increased capacity to respond to coastal hazards are features of the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council’s 2020-21 Budget adopted on Tuesday night.
Afterwards the mayor Cr Despi O’Connor said the Chair of the Australian Local Government Association had told the National Press Club that, nationally, local governments receive 3.6 per cent of all tax income (including rates) yet deliver 33 per cent of the nation’s infrastructure.
“We have an important role to play in our community with a very tight budget,” she said.
“Each year [we] aim to deliver on our Council Plan and its four key themes of Our Place, Our Connectivity, Our Prosperity and Our Wellbeing. This year we have added another major theme: COVID-19 resilience and recovery.”
Big ticket items it the budget include $250,000 for community-built bike tracks, $490,000 for Bay Trail designs, approvals and advocacy, $52,000 for a festival to help the community “celebrate and reconnect”, $110,000 for an on-demand bus service trial, $142,000 for a ‘First 1000 Days Program’ for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, $2.2 million for “infrastructure and community connections” including The Briars masterplan, Southern Peninsula Youth Hub and “missing link” footpaths, $125,000 to establish a technology park, and $100,000 to help respond to coastal hazard risks.
“A major focus of this budget is helping our community and local businesses recover from the impacts of COVID-19,” Cr O’Connor said.
“We know the pandemic hit the Mornington Peninsula’s economy more severely than most other parts of Australia.
“At its peak last year, 2205 jobs were lost and 59 per cent of our businesses were on JobKeeper – the highest rate in Victoria and the third highest in the nation.”
The mayor said shire support included $650,000 for the outdoor dining and township activation program and the waiving of a further $1 million in fees and charges.
“We are also rolling out a $2 million grants program to further empower our community, with grants for community events, community recovery, business recovery, youth and social services,” she said.
“We know climate change is important and want to ensure a ‘green’ recovery and rebuild for our local economy, with a focus on transitioning to a net zero carbon energy sector.
“To help with this, we have allocated $500,000 to fast track priority Climate Emergency Actions this financial year.”
Other priority projects include a $700,000 food waste collection program, $200,000 to develop a detailed business case for a performing arts and cultural venue and $225,000 for an overarching strategy for peninsula open space.
The mayor said the Yawa aquatic centre was the “culmination of many years of planning and budgeting by council”. “This world class centre will offer something for everyone and make a positive contribution to our community for generations to come,” she said.