Blacktown City Council has delivered a balanced 2021/22 draft budget but warns that adjustments could still be made in the coming months as the city recovers from the impact of COVID-19.
Council has adopted a draft budget of $656 million for the 2021/22 financial year, including a major capital works program of more than $150 million – Council’s third largest budget spend ever following the record $789 million delivered 12-months ago
Over the past five years, Blacktown City Council has voted a cumulative budget spend of $3.414 billion.
“This budget delivers on promises made to residents, businesses and our loyal council staff,” Blacktown City Mayor Tony Bleasdale said today.
“Just as many of our residents and businesses were affected by the restrictions and hardships imposed by the COVID pandemic, Council also had to make adjustments, maximise savings, cut non-essential expenses and operate in an environment with a reduced revenue stream,” he said.
“In the early days of COVID, I and my fellow Councillors made a commitment to this City that Council would maintain services, preserve the health and well being of our residents and Council staff alike, and continue with the transformation of Blacktown into a modern, sustainable city.
“I can honestly say that we have honoured all of those commitments and delivered a balanced, responsible budget despite reduced revenue, funding shortfalls from the Federal and NSW Government and a NSW Government imposed rate cap. “
He said Council staff commenced work on the 2021/22 budget during 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 financial and social restrictions.
“At the time, the cost to Council of the COVID-19 pandemic was estimated to be $24 million over an 18-month period, however due to astute planning and responsible financial management, at this stage, the actual losses have not been as high as forecast,” the Mayor said.
“We might have to make budget adjustments in the coming months due to the ongoing responses to the pandemic by Council and the Australian and NSW governments that impact on our income and expenditure.”
“However, Council is totally committed to delivering the City’s transformational projects. The $80 million Warrick Lane precinct CBD redevelopment is nearing completion, initial works have started on the $100 million International Centre of Training Excellence at the Blacktown International Sportspark and construction will commence later this year on a world-class $30 million Animal Rehoming Centre at Glendenning.
“In addition, students are now studying at the Australian Catholic University campus in the Blacktown City Centre and we will continue to operate one of the state’s largest childcare programs at our 25 Kids Early Learning centres.”
Speaking at Wednesday’s Council meeting, Deputy Mayor, Julie Griffiths said: “This year’s budget delivers increased spending on service delivery while at the same time maintaining high levels of spending on infrastructure to support the City’s rapid growth and development.
“Providing vital services such as waste management, childcare, roads, footpaths, libraries and leisure centres are the cornerstone of Council’s operations.
“Council is allocating over $25 million to our childcare centres as well as $10.1 million to our libraries that attract 1.5 million visitors each year.
“I am especially proud that we have supported our Seniors during COVID with Council-funded rate rebates and reduced essential services charges.
“Our parks are the lungs of our City. Council is spending $56.4 million on the purchase and maintenance of our City’s parks, reserves, playgrounds and sporting fields.”
Council is responsible for more than 1,400 kilometres roads, 117 bridges and 1,500 kilometres of footpaths.
“We are allocating $56.7 million in 2021/22 for construction and maintenance of roads, footpaths and bridges,” Cr Griffiths said.
“We are the largest Council in NSW with more than 395,000 residents. Council is a major employer and business in Western Sydney and we remain committed to maintaining jobs, paying our creditors, providing quality services, facilities and infrastructure for our residents and businesses,” Mayor Bleasdale added.
The Blacktown City Council draft 2021/22 Operation Plan and budget documents will be available on Council’s website from 6 May: www.blacktown.nsw.gov.au.