Budget overhaul to deal with COVID-19

Published: Thursday, 21 May 2020 at 4:00:07 PM

The City of Vincent has overhauled its 2019/20 budget for the last quarter, with a focus on protecting the vulnerable and maintaining core services while dealing with the significant financial impact of COVID-19.

Impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the loss of almost $2 million from the closure of Beatty Park and $1.6 million in parking income over the last quarter of the financial year.

In a bid to deal with the losses and maintain staff, the City had to pare back non-essential services and cut down on projects.  Savings were found wherever possible, resulting in a $3.2 million reduction in operating expenditure and $2.08 million reduction in capital works.

“We have faced significant financial challenges as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and physical distancing rules. In response, we’ve made tough decisions and focused on the essentials to be financially sustainable through this time. Our focus is maintaining core services, providing support for our community and employment and re-deployment opportunities to maintain staff," said Mayor Emma Cole.

"Supporting our local businesses and vulnerable people in the community has been so important during this time. 

Despite the setback this financial year and the substantial loss of income, we are forecast to have a very minor deficit of just $6600”.

The City recognises the hardship that the past few months has placed on tenants who rent our properties.  We are working with these groups to waive rental payments to ensure they stay viable and their services remain in the community.

“Communities are built around the local sports clubs and community groups and the connections they form in our parks and meeting places. Now, more than ever, we need these groups to thrive", said Mayor Cole.

The City made up to $1 million in Leederville Gardens Trust funds available to charities that support the most vulnerable in our community. So far, grants have been awarded to five public benevolent institutions to support adult and youth homelessness, women and children escaping domestic violence, seniors and the vulnerable, and youth mental health and training.

Grants of up to $10,000 have also been offered to local artists as part of an arts relief project that draws on $500,000 cash-in-lieu percent for art developer contributions.

In the early stages of physical distancing, some of the City’s capital works projects were put on hold or the funds were reallocated to work that could be done while facilities were closed. This included maintenance work at Beatty Park Leisure Centre.

As a result, the City has carried forward $1.2 million of capital works funding that will be completed next financial year and help keep the local economy moving.

The City has aimed to finish works wherever possible to reduce the impact on groups and users.

“We had to review our capital works program over the course of the restrictions, and in many cases we used the closures to do necessary but messy maintenance work that would have disrupted our tenants or patrons. Beatty Park has been receiving lots of TLC through the closure, with deep cleaning, painting, tile repair and a replacement ceiling above the indoor slides,” said Mayor Cole.

2020/21 Budget update

Work is underway on the 2020/21 budget. Tough economic conditions and income challenges are expected to continue, with current forecast of $10million reduction in revenue.

The focus areas for 2020/21 will include hardship provisions for ratepayers, tenants and community groups; ongoing support for vulnerable people; continuation of capital works and a focus on core, quality service delivery; and economic rebound support for business and the local economy. Regular budget reviews are likely to occur throughout the financial year where restrictions ease and revenue streams return.

During the 2020/21 budget development, there will be regular updates to the publically streamed COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Committee to help keep our community informed, with Vincent Council aiming to adopt the final budget in July.

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