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Budget’s poor deal for Southbank

15 May 2012

City of Melbourne ratepayers will enjoy a rate freeze after the 2012-2013 council draft budget was released in May, but the move has been met with skepticism, with some suggesting it has been motivated by the fact it is a council election year.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle argued that council rate increases have been decreasing steadily under the currentcouncil, which has been working towards the zero per cent increase.

“Our sensible approach to managing our finances combined with a concerted effort to keep rates down has seen us continually deliver what the community needs now and what it will need in the future,” Cr Doyle said.

On the topic of it being a coincidence with the election year, Cr Doyle said that was an overly cynical view and, although he accepted some would take that position, he stressed the council hadn’t considered it.

While the budget delivers a record $117 million investment in infrastructure and $364 million on community services, Southbank has been largely overlooked.

The major investment in Southbank is as part of the $5.6 million being spent on improving and creating bike paths throughout the city. Bike paths around Southbank include southbound on St Kilda Rd, along Cecil St between Whiteman and Clarendon streets and to and from North Wharf.

The Lord Mayor said it was important to keep the city well connected, and to give people a safe alternative form of transport.

“A city needs to be connected in many ways in order to function well. It’s about helping people get where they need to go easily and safely and making sure they feel part of the city when they get there,” Cr Doyle said.

Greens councillor Cathy Oke was also excited about the investment, saying: “This $5.6 million will help us establish a superior, connected cycling network for Melbourne that will enable cyclists to travel from one end of the city to the other and beyond on clear, delineated bike paths.”

There is also a $40.80 million investment in arts and culture, with part of that money going into the arts precinct in Southbank.

The draft budget is open for public consultation now until Friday, June 8. A final version will be considered by council on June 28.

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