Tuesday, October 26, 2021

City of Geelong records strong growth

City of Geelong Council has recorded a positive financial result for 2020-21, on the back of a booming development sector across Greater Geelong.

Council says strong residential growth brought forward levies from developers, with the City collecting more than $42 million in monetary and non-monetary contributions over budget.

Despite income being waived or lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City ended the financial year with a $141.6 million surplus.

The result was $56.8m above the adopted Budget, with the developer levies supported by the early receipt of Grants Commission funding and grants for capital projects, Council said.

It said that with a continued high focus on supporting businesses and the community through the pandemic, an underlying operating deficit of $7.9m was recorded for the year.

The Annual Financial Report 2020-21 was adopted by the Council at a meeting on Tuesday night.

Chief Executive Officer, Martin Cutter said the City was in a sound financial position to deliver its record $209 million capital works program in 2021-22.

“We are well placed to complete or begin our huge range of community projects, such as shared trails, aquatic and sporting facilities, libraries and community centres,” Mr Cutter said.

“That capital, along with a strong asset base now worth $3.1 billion, will also help us meet our infrastructure needs and maintain our wide variety of services to the community.”

The City received close to $8m through the State Government’s Working for Victoria fund in 2020-21, which helped create and support almost 200 full-time equivalent jobs.

However, a combination of permit and fee waivers, reduced user fees and the forced closures of leisure centres and outdoor pools led to a net COVID-19 related impact of $14.8m in 2020-21.

Council says the biggest financial impacts were:

– Swim, Sport and Leisure centres being forced to close: $4.4m;

– Parking fees waived and the lower utilisation of spaces during lockdowns – $3.4m;

– Council relief packages providing refunds for several fees and services, including health/food licences, events, closure of arts and cultural centres and reduction and waiver of sport and recreation leases – $2.7m.

Mr Cutter said the value of six Council support packages, spanning both 2019-20 and 2020-21 financial years, was budgeted at $16.9m.

“Those measures provided support for businesses, our arts, cultural and heritage sectors, community health and wellbeing and financial relief for those most affected,” he said.

“Our recent survey results show that those targeted responses were well received by the community, with more being done to assist with the region’s social and economic recovery.”

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