28 Jun, 2013

Big Plans and Budget approved for the city

City of Adelaide has signed off on its 2013-14 Business Plan and Budget, setting out the city’s key projects, services and initiatives for the financial year ahead.

As part of the budget, existing residential property owners will receive an average 1.4% reduction in rates and existing non-residential property owners will receive an average 2.2% reduction.

The average decrease has been made possible for existing properties due to a spike in new developments in the city, such as Tower 8 on Franklin Street, Ergo Apartments on Sturt Street and UNO apartments on Waymouth Street.

Individual rates may vary (higher or lower) from the average where there has been new development, capital improvements or other significant change to the potential rental return of a property.

“This is great news for our ratepayers and a sign of the dramatic increase in new property investments in the city,” said Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood.

“Council has put a lot of effort into ensuring a robust and successful annual budget and always tries to balance the needs of our broader community and city users with our ratepayers. I’m pleased to be able to give city property owners some reprieve.”

“It certainly lays to rest any suggestions Council is not in excellent financial shape.”

Over the next 12 months, Council will invest $59.7m on projects aimed at changing the experience for those living, working and visiting the city to shop or socialise. They include the major upgrade to the northern end of Victoria Square/Tarntanyangga, the Rundle Mall redevelopment and a state of the art City Library in Rundle Place.

Ongoing maintenance and improvements to city infrastructure, roads and footpaths will continue, along with high-quality core services such as waste management, rubbish collection, recycling and street cleaning.

“As a Capital City, the projects and services that Council delivers for and on behalf of the city are incredibly diverse,” Stephen said.

“This year we’re focusing on progressing and completing major projects already underway, delivering a huge-array of core services that make our city tick and working with the community to make Adelaide a city of great places, for many people,” he said.

Consultation on the draft Budget was held in May, giving the community the opportunity to review the plan and provide feedback to the Council before it was formally endorsed. Following the consultation, the two most apparent changes surround additional funding to Renew Adelaide and Council has re-assessed the Property Investment assumptions in the Budget and Long Term Financial Plan.

After representation from Renew Adelaide, Council has added a $50,000 funding to what was proposed to return 2013/14 funding to $100,000, consistent with what was provided in this current year’s budget.

As for the timing and value of certain property investment transactions, this has also changed. The net impact is that Council borrowings are expected to be $16.7m less in 2013-14, reducing from a pre-consultation level of $71.9m to $55.2m.

“Council has had virtually no debt for the last two years and forecast borrowings for the next financial year are projected to remain at 43%, well within prudential and responsible limits. This compares favourably against other Council’s throughout the State and is relatively conservative, with any debt at the lowest interest rates offered in the last 50 years.”

“As a Council representing both the business and residential ratepayers of the city, Council will always look at the best options to deliver beneficial projects, in a financially sustainable and responsible way.”

“If you look at our medium term approach to borrowings over the next decade you see that we are taking a very sensible approach which will see us comfortably manage our debt to less than 20% of our acceptable prudential limit.”

Key projects included in the 2013-14 Business Plan and Budget include:
• A $1m Residential Street Development program for priority streets in consultation with the community.
• Continuing the City Activation program, which includes Splash Adelaide, the Parklet program, the Outdoor Dining incentive scheme, laneway and place-making projects and ensuring an exciting range of events and activities across the city and throughout the year.
• Continuing to invest in recreation and sports facilities, including developing a Masterplan for the North Adelaide Golf Course, upgrading the Princess Elizabeth Playspace as well as significant grant funding for sporting clubs, groups, schools and organisations.
• A diverse range of city lighting and safety projects
• Extensive tree planting across the city, including through major projects
• Increasing state, national and international awareness of the city’s offerings through tourism development and visitor information services.
• Attracting residents and businesses to the city through supporting and fostering new investment and assisting businesses and entrepreneurs by reducing red-tape and offering training and advice to small and start-up businesses.
• Implementing the city’s first ever Digital Strategy to enhance Adelaide’s position as a great ‘smart’ city, including developing smart parking technologies, smart urban infrastructure as well as growing digital literacy in the community through free training in computer, internet and smart devices.
• Continuing to make the city safe and pleasant for pedestrians and creating a bicycle friendly city by expanding the Bicycle Action Plan, including the proposed Frome Street bikeway, increasing the free Adelaide city bike scheme and continuing the Park Lands trail.

Council will also continue to deliver a raft of community based services and activities, such as library and community centres, free training at the Digital Hub and the provision of Home & Community Care services. In addition, Council will continue to work collaboratively with the State Government on a range of major city projects such as Adelaide Oval, the Riverbank and the RAH.

For more information

Naomi Marsh