Yarra City Council's draft budget for the next financial year and its long-term financial plan were endorsed for public feedback at the council's last meeting, with up to a 20 per cent increase in metered parking and permits and a 1.75 per cent rate increase.
The council says it is the first time in six years there has been an increase in metered parking, and is line with the council's draft policy to provide disincentives to the use of cars in Yarra City.
There also is an allocation for bicycle projects and bike network improvements as part of Yarra's Transport Action Plan, and traffic calming and "placemaking measures" to improve safety and encourage walking and cycling under its Local Area Place Making program
Revenue from Statutory Fees and Fines are expected to be $35.8m which is an increase of 43 per cent on the2021-22 forecast. This reflects the drop in revenue from 2019-20 to 2021-22 (particularly parking revenue) due to COVID-19 and a budgeted return to pre-COVID activities.
The $219 million budget was described by Mayor Sophie Wade as "responsible and responsive" given "the challenging economic landscape we find ourselves in".
Financial challenges include more than $50m in losses as a result of COVID-19, and according to Wade, major cost-shifting by the state government.
Yarra City is bound by the Victorian Government's Fair Go Rates system to cap rates at 1.75 per cent - a 0.25 per cent increase on last year - and will increase rates by the capped amount.
With the assumption of "a return to some degree of economic normality", the council anticipates that from a forecasted $2m deficit for 2021-22, Yarra will return to a surplus of $9.2m in 2022-23.
The budget also allocates $180,000 to start designing a new pocket park outside Richmond library in Charlotte Street.
Yarra City Council's Council's proposed new sportsgrounds allocation policy again raised the hackles of sporting groups when it was re-introduced for discussion with little prior warning to clubs.
The policy - which aims to "progress council's community inclusion, diversity, accessibility and good governance objectives" through the use of a points-based framework for allocating use of grounds and facilities - previously provoked controversy when it was coupled with potentially dramatic fee increases.
Following serious backlash on the issue, the increases were dropped from the plan, and council officers have consulted twice with sports clubs about it. There are no increase in fees in the new proposal.
The officer presenting the policy told the meeting the majority of seasonal sports clubs understood and supported it.
However, Fitzroy Football Club vice-president Gabrielle Murphy said that clubs who, were last consulted in November, had been given less than a week's notice that the policy would be discussed.
While the officer argued the information was clear and specific and the policy had not changed since November, councillors voted unanimously to postpone its discussion for three weeks as an act of "good faith".
Yarra City has voted to ban fossil fuel company advertising on council property, even though the council already does not allow any commercial advertising on its property.
A media report last week suggested local sports clubs and festivals stood to lose thousands of dollars from a prohibition on advertising from service stations or energy companies in the municipality. However, Greens councillor Amanda Stone, whose motion proposing a ban be investigated had sparked the report, said the move was pre-emptive, given that a policy change to allow advertising was possible in the future.