THE City of Perth last week approved its 2014-15 Budget at a Special Council Meeting, which Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi said comes at a time of significant change for the Council as it prepares for reforms to local government and continues to work closely with the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority on the delivery of three major new precincts.
The Budget allocates $72.1 million for capital expenditure in 2014-15, including $24.6 million for the City of Perth Library and Public Plaza Project, $2.1 million for the Newcastle Street car park redevelopment, $5.3 million for the Wellington Street streetscape project, $1.1 million for the Wellington Street reconstruction project and $2 million for the Barrack Street two-way street program.
"Perth is experiencing an exciting transition era and the $24.6 million allocated to the new City of Perth Library and plaza in Hay Street will ensure that people are able to access a state-of-the-art knowledge hub," Cr Scaffidi said.
"This modern building, currently under construction, forms part of the Cathedral and Treasury Precinct and will complement other landmark buildings in the area, seamlessly blending the old and the new.
"Street improvements throughout the city will not only improve traffic flows and choice but also set the scene for major projects such as the Perth City Link which has allowed the railway lines that have divided the CBD from Northbridge to be sunk.
"To keep Perth moving and adapting to city needs, $9.5 million of the capital budget has been allocated to streetscape enhancement with $5.3 million being spent on Wellington Street, including new granite footpath paving, a two-way cycle path, street furniture, trees and lighting.
"There is $2.1 million set aside for preparation of a business case and preliminary design work for redevelopment of the Newcastle Street Car Park," the Lord Mayor said.
Cr Scaffidi said the Budget incorporates the impact of late changes attributable to the State Budget, primarily relating to changes to the parking and landfill levies. However, she said the Council tried as much as possible to ensure there was no substantial increase in the proportion of annual revenue derived from rates.
"The City has been able to maintain the ratio due to its strong revenue diversity and the significant contributions from its parking business, which remains the biggest contributor to our revenue," Cr Scaffidi said.
"Rates have increased by 4.9 per cent averaged across the various rating classifications. This compares favourably with most other local governments. More than half of the increase is accounted for by the forecast upward movement of the Consumer Price Index."
The Lord Mayor also said the Council is continuing to work on increasing and diversifying its revenue base, with rates making up 39.7 per cent of total revenue (including capital grants) for the City of Perth. She said this proportion is lower than other capital cities and West Australian local governments.