Ratepayers in Wyndham will face an average rate rise of 3.5%, the highest amount allowed, in the upcoming financial year.
This was included in the council‘s 2023–2024 draft budget plan, passed in a council meeting on Wednesday night. Despite councillors Josh Gilligan and Heather Marcus abstaining due to increased debt, the draft budget was adopted with an operating surplus of $239 million.
Cr Josh Gilligan expressed concern over the increased borrowing, warning that Wyndham could end up like the state government and be forced to make job and service cuts to manage debt.
Population growth is a key factor in the rate rise, as Wyndham is the fastest-growing municipality in the nation, projected to have over half a million residents by 2041. To meet this demand, the capital works budget will increase by 12% to $168 million for the upcoming financial year, and is predicted to surpass $210 million in 2024–2025.
Community services will receive $432 million, with $20 million for kindergartens and child services, $11 million for child immunisation and $10 million for libraries.
To help fund these commitments, debt will jump from $15 million to $67.5 million by the end of the next financial year, and is estimated to reach $155 million in 2027.
“Increased costs mean tough decisions have to be made,” Mayor Susan McIntyre said. “Costs of building materials and utilities have increased in some cases by up to 40 per cent, which means some projects will be deferred or delayed.”
“The Draft Budget proposes to increase our borrowings from a current $15 million to up to $67.5 million by 30 June 2024. These borrowings will only be drawn upon if needed, and will be used to help fund capital works, which are required due to the rapid growth of our City.”
Wyndham joins other councils in the western suburbs such as Brimbank and Hobson‘s Bay in imposing a 3.5% rate rise. As a result of the increase, revenue from rates and charges will reach $289 million, a 7% rise from the year before.