Special Council Meeting – 7 July 2020

Our 7th Special Council Meeting for the year (compared to only 5 Ordinary Meetings so far) – this one to pass the 2020-21 Budget for Town of Cottesloe.

The Budget was passed, and follows three earlier workshops, involving Councillors and relevant Administration, each focussing on different areas of the Budget (eg Rate-setting, Capital Works and Reserves, other Projects). Whilst this doesn’t allow direct community input, I’m hopeful that in future years this process can be more inclusive, and less reliant on particular priorities of individual councillors. NB: I am not saying there is anything wrong with Councillors advocating directly for projects or spending (or that any are untoward), just that it doesn’t necessarily mean the community is always supportive, or even aware, of them. The ideal, in my view, is an open process of priority setting (consistent with the Town’s Strategic and Business Plans) that has some level of direct community input – prior to a draft Budget being released for Council approval.

I’ve set out below a summary of some key items, and I am happy to answer any queries as best as I can on any other areas: email to Cr.Tucak@cottesloe.wa.gov.au

You can review the Budget at: https://www.cottesloe.wa.gov.au/documents/1449/20202021-budget (PDF) (The Council Meeting Agenda is found separately here).

Notes: Capital Works p 33*, Operating Projects p 79*, movements in and out of Reserves 20*. [*refs are to numbered pages, which differ from PDF pages].

Rates

The 2020-21 Budget has a ‘zero rate increase’, but it is important to note that as property valuations are also being done this year by the Valuer General, it is possible some actual rates may increase (ie if a property valuation itself increases). The Town’s Rates modelling suggests “about 60% of ratepayers will receive a 2020/21 rates notice of equal to or less than last year … (and) approximately 40% will receive a notice for more than last year“.

Importantly, 64% of Town Reserves are being used (consistent with post-COVID stimulus goals of the State Government), including Foreshore Construction ($12m total construction cost), Dutch Inn Playground, and the Anderson Pavilion upgrade (Football Oval) ($3million total project cost).

Spending

Obviously, this means restrictions on spending in 2020-21. Projects to note:

  • $25,000 for a ‘Parking Strategy’, to hopefully ease ongoing parking problems, particularly in East Cottesloe and around public transport
  • The ‘Cott Cat’ bus during Sculpture By the Sea, was not funded
  • $208,000 & $550,000 budgeted for North Cott Primary ‘Kiss and Drop’ carpark project, but intended to come from grant funds/contributions (NB: those are yet to be sought but the project is moving ahead quickly)
  • Tree root protection works will be completed on Napoleon St, as well as $363,000 allocated to further suburb street tree planting (3rd Stage)
  • Cottesloe Village will again be funded $100,000 for “area promotion”
  • Grove Library Reserve increased by 11% (ie future asset replacement for ageing assets) – this is a liability that Cottesloe shares with Town of Mosman Park and Shire of Peppermint Grove, so reserves are needed
  • $608,000 allocated to an ‘East Cottesloe Playground’ upgrade (its full planned extent is yet to go to residents for consultation, but is currently earmarked for between the two playgrounds on Railway St)
  • $215,000 allocated to the new “Dutch Inn Playground” project, as part of the recent ‘Public Open Space’ Strategy consulted on in late 2019
  • $1m to a new ‘Anderson Pavilion’ at Harvey Field (a project yet to begin) and further $100,000 for Cottesloe Rugby Clubhouse upgrade
  • $4.1million to the Foreshore Works currently in detailed design (which needs a further $9 million in grants to make it feasible)
  • $390,000 to upgrade ‘The Cove’ surf break stairs and beach path (currently being reconsidered by Council due to the tendered cost)
  • $378,000 for the new automated parking system’s installation and a further $285,000 on Administration Office and ‘IT’ improvements
  • $70K taken from ‘Sculpture & Artwork Reserve’ for other items yet to be identified (this is the second time Council has ‘raided’ this money)
  • Green Infrastructure/Sustainability Reserve increased by $76,000 and ‘Active Transport’ Reserve (walking and cycling) increased by $155,000
  • Shark Barrier Reserve further increased by $25,000 to $125,000 to fund future costs of the Barrier ($90,000 annual maintenance costs)
  • Public Open Space Reserve increased by $400,000 (for future playgrounds, following the 2019 Public Open Space Strategy)

I’m also really pleased to say the “Food Organics, Garden Organics” (‘FOGO’) Waste Management System (already being used by other Councils) has been budgeted for in 2020-21 at Cottesloe – I’m very hopeful this important waste “recycling” initiative will be rolled out soon, and I’ll report on that if it does.

No allocation given at all to any ‘art acquisition’ from Sculpture by the Sea in 2021, which disappoints me greatly – this will be a loss to Cottesloe’s culture & creativity.

To conclude, some of the more general numbers from the 2020-21 Budget:

  • Expected rates income: $10,821,000 (subject to 2020’s valuations)
  • Other fees income: $1,470,138 (including parking infringements)
  • Annual employee costs: $5,302,200 (approx. 50% of rates income)
  • Borrowings currently: $3,451,436 (no newer loans are budgeted)
  • Net Cash at end of year: $697,201

It will be an interesting year ahead for Cottesloe, and for us all in WA. I am hopeful our expenditure in 2020-21 will benefit Cottesloe’s ratepayers now and in the longer term, with wise decisions reflecting identified community needs.

Michael Tucak

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