2020-21 Boroondara Budget Update
At a special meeting of council on 20 July 2020, the City of Boroondara adopted its budget for the 2020-21 financial year.
Council presented its proposed 2020-21 budget on 1 June and accepted community feedback for one month. The proposed budget received 92 submissions from the local community, a significant increase from previous years. In contrast, the proposed 2019-20 council budget received 24 submissions, the 2018-19 budget received 21, and the year before that saw only 7 responses.
Submissions about the current budget predominately included feedback regarding: infrastructure, especially road and footpath maintenance, cycling, and community spaces and amenities; environ- mental issues and initiatives, including FOGO and the Climate Action Plan; lack of support for the disadvantaged, especially the elderly and homeless; the council rate increase; and general issues relating to COVID-19.
The redrafted 2020-21 budget adopted on 20 July included no changes based on any of the public submissions. The most significant changes that were made included a decrease of $1.84 million in total budgeted revenue and an increase in the deficit from $5.43 million to $7.39 million. The City of Boorondara explained that the increased deficit was a result of changes made by the federal government to its Financial Assistance Grant to Local Government, impacting council revenue streams for all councils in Australia. In June, after the City of Boroondara had proposed its 2020-21 budget but before the final budget was adopted, the government decided that half of the annual grant ($2.43 million) was to be allocated into councils' budgets for the previous year. This resulted in a $1.96 million increase in the surplus for the 2019-20 council budget, and a corresponding increase in the deficit for the 2020-21 budget.
This year’s abnormally high deficit, council explained, is the result of significant costs and loss of council income as a consequence of COVID-19. This includes million-dollar losses in fees and charges, closure of community facilities (such as HALC), and providing community services and assistance to cope with the pandemic (such as the $4.5 million support and relief package).