The formal adoption of our 2020/21 budget provides a centrepiece from which financial support will flow to recovering businesses and also to residential ratepayers who have suffered significant loss caused by the virus.
Some of the key elements of the budget contain measures to assist with COVID-19 recovery, including:
- A one-off reduction in our waste management charge of $40 per property
- No increase to water, sewerage and other charges
- Zero chair fees for outdoor dining in 2020/21
- Licence fee support for community and sports groups, and
- A COVID-19 Hardship Relief Program for residential ratepayers
At their most recent meeting, Councillors confirmed eligibility criteria and conditions for the relief program, which will provide rates relief of up to 50 per cent for the six-month period ended 30 September 2020 for those residents who are struggling to pay their rates because of COVID-19. This program will help residential ratepayers who have suffered an income reduction of 30 per cent as a direct result of the virus.
These measures are designed to offer financial relief to those doing it tough, as well as assisting businesses and sporting/community groups to rise from the setback of lockdown, with the benefits to flow into the wider community.
Of course, a suite of stimulus measures will be needed to drive economic recovery, which is why we’ve been working closely with local businesses and other levels of government to identify and promote opportunities for growth and support.
As part of our efforts to foster economic activity that will create jobs and expenditure in the community, we are also nominating several projects to be funded by the Federal Government’s Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program.
The government has allocated $883,000 to AlburyCity to fund the development or improvement of council-owned assets to deliver benefits that will not only include jobs and incomes for local families, but also provide improved infrastructure to our community.
After considering a number of options, Councillors decided to apply for full funding to deliver public toilet replacements or upgrades at Hovell Tree Park, National Foresters Grove and Lake Hume, as well as new toilets for a new bike path along Thurgoona Drive.
Councillors also resolved to apply for $148,000 from the program towards the cost of the Lavington Sports Ground Footpath Project, with Council’s budget to be extended by $152,000 to fund the balance of the works.
The combined cost of these works would deliver more than $1M in construction activity, with much of that to be spent on local labour, materials and services – a timely cash injection into a sector that provides jobs for many local people.
On top of that, our budget will help to prime the economy with a $54M capital works program and more than 2,700 expenditure items, including:
- $2.6M for construction of the Albury Regional Skate Park
- $1.1M for the ongoing redevelopment of Lavington Sports Ground
- $1.1M for the upgrade of change rooms and public toilets at Thurgoona Sportsground
- $1.1M for the construction of the Wonga Wetlands Visitors Education Centre
- $402,000 for improvements at Greenfield Park
- $400,000 for the Ernest Grant Park Play Space, and,
- $200,000 for the Murray Park Play Space Construction
These works will not only further drive construction activity in the city, they will also create fantastic community assets that will be enjoyed by local people for many years to come.
We’re also working closely with other economic sectors, including hard-hit retail and hospitality operators who now, more than ever, need support not only from Council and government, but also their own customers.
As part of that process, we’re promoting the Stay Loyal to Local message, a joint effort between our Events team and Visit Albury Wodonga to encourage shoppers to buy from local businesses. Any purchases, large or small, will help to revitalise our economy and our business owners will certainly appreciate your support.
The road to recovery is still a long one but we know our community always unites in adversity and by working together we can look forward to the return of better times, and with them, an even stronger and more vibrant local economy.