Council budget flags rate rise for Ballarat

City of Ballarat plans to raise rates by 2.25 per cent, the highest rate increase possible under Victoria’s rate capping system, as proposed in the city’s draft budget. 

The draft budget will be considered at a special council meeting on Wednesday, along with the city’s revised four-year strategic plan and the quarterly financial report. 

Ratepayer’s waste management charge will also increase to $339.51, while the green waste charge will increase to $68.23 annually. 

But as a final agreement has not been made with the city’s recycling contractor SKM following changes to recycling exports to China, it is possible the waste levy will increase again after the draft budget’s public exhibition. 

City of Ballarat’s director of infrastructure and environment Terry Demeo said council is “not in a position to lock down a recycling charge within the broader waste levy” without a fully-costed contract with SKM. 

The Essential Services Commission capped rate increases to 2.25 per cent in December for the 2018/19 financial year.

City of Ballarat’s CEO Justine Linley warned that the municipality lost $10 million in revenue due to rate capping for the 2017/18 financial year, with non-essential services under greater financial scrutiny.

Council did not apply for an exemption from rate capping for the upcoming financial year, but was one of 10 Victorian councils to apply for an exemption in 2016. The city’s bid for a 3.7 per cent rate rise was rejected by the ESC in 2016 because it was deemed not to be in the long-term interest of rate payers. 

Council will hold a special council meeting on June 27 to consider and adopt the 2018/19 budget and strategic resource plan, following the budget’s public exhibition.