A freeze on residential and commercial rates and a $25 million redevelopment of Casuarina Pool are some of the highlights of Darwin Council’s record $71.77 million 2020/21 Budget.
Council has allocated $3.8 million to tree planting and beautification and has doubled the Disaster Contingency Reserve to $2 million, while allocating $7 million to aid in recovery, $4 million for an expanded Hardship Policy and $3 million for Ward Projects in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The arts community and the Shoal Bay tip will also share in the cash splash, while council stares down a $15 million deficit.
“This record capital budget includes investments in major projects across the municipality,” Mayor Kon Vatskalis said.
“It builds on the unprecedented infrastructure spend in our 2019/20 Budget of $54 million, incorporating projects designed to improve the amenity of our streetscapes, support our community and achieve Council’s vision of a ‘City of Colour’.”
The redevelopment of the Casuarina Pool received the biggest chunk of this year’s budget allocation with $25 million.
Other key infrastructure projects included in the 2020/21 Budget include $15.5 million for upgrades at the Shoal Bay Waste Management Facility, $3 million to improve road networks, $1.6 million for construction, refurbishment and development of path networks and $500,000 toward street and public lighting.
The arts industry has also been allocated with $1.6 million for sponsorships, grants, and operating subsidies for community events, festivals, and not-for-profit organisations, while there’s also a separate budget for public art development with $100,000.
Council’s operating expenditure totals at $122 million while its operating income is only at $106.8 million, making a deficit of $15.2m representing similar levels to the last previous years.
Last month, Mr Vatskalis said he was confident that freezing rates for the year was the right thing to do.
“We think we can survive with the current level of rates we charge, people probably don’t have the ability to pay excess money next year,” he said.
“We’ll find savings inside, we can work with the existing money we’ve got.”
The 2020-2021 Draft Budget is available for public display and feedback submissions for a period of 23 days from today until June 26, 2020.