On Tuesday night, Council adopted its budget for the 2020/21 financial year, and did something we don’t normally do. We carried over the remaining $780,000 from the City’s COVID-19 Fighting Fund. Usually, if there are unspent funds, these go into the budget surplus, but it’s very clear to us that the full impact of COVID-19 on our local community and sporting groups is still being identified.
That being said, it’s been fantastic to see the awareness of the groups as they apply that many are doing it tough. Organisations have been very prudent and responsible, and have really genuinely taken an attitude of “we’ll get on and do it ourselves and not depend on others”, but these are not normal times.
Whilst there are some businesses who have done well out of lockdown, this is hardly the case for the sporting, cultural and community groups that make our City such a great place to live, and I encourage any community or sporting groups which have been affected by COVID-19 to consider applying.
I am very proud to say that this is the second year with no increase to rates, fees and charges. It would have to be many decades since that was the case.
Despite the low key nature of this year’s budget, there are still funds for new capital works, however Council has committed to reviewing the expenditure on further major capital works at the mid-year budget review, after the pandemic is more understood.
All our major enterprises – the airport, the Oasis, the Goldfields Arts Centre and the golf course – are changing by the day. Some are coming back to normal quicker than others, and hopefully by mid financial year we will have a clearer picture, but that also depends on how WA manages the pandemic in the coming months.
A record amount was allocated to road improvements last financial year, and you have all seen the results now as we roll out our roads resurfacing project, and I have also heard that the Trans Access Road is in the best condition it has been for many years. This year, we have allocated about a million dollars more than last year to keep improving our roads.
Despite howls of derision from a handful, I expect the long awaited hotel and club house at the Kalgoorlie Golf Course will be well underway, and also the long awaited improvements on Hannan and Burt Street will have taken place this coming financial year.
A particular highlight from this year’s budget is the new childcare centre, which is very much needed. This will open up 129 places, with half set aside for City staff, which will subsequently free up places at other centres around town as well. The City, like a number of employers, has had a hard time getting mothers back into the workforce due to a lack of childcare.
I personally know of at least one family who were intending to move to Kalgoorlie-Boulder, the husband had a job and the wife had work lined up, but the lack of childcare meant they decided not to move here. I’m sure this isn’t a one off occurrence, so hopefully this investment by the City will pay big dividends in terms of livability and population growth.