Spending our money


    Well, it’s that time of year again. When councils decide what they’re gunna spend our money on. And because they can’t spend it without our say-so, they put draft proposed budgets out for public consultation before heading back to chambers to be voted on. 

    But there is one crucial step in the process, and that’s us looking and critiquing these draft proposed budgets and letting ‘em know if we’re happy with their spending choices.

    So this month we’ve had a quick look at what they’re proposing to spend our money on and showing you where you can get more detail. Don’t be bamboozled by the numbers folks! This is democracy! It can only work if we put in a few hard yards!

    Oh yeah, there were also one or two protests, and the small issue of getting rid of asbestos in children’s playgrounds.

    Hobsons Bay

    They breed ‘em tenacious and just a mite bit creative out Hobsons Bay.

    This was about the fourth protest Techno Park residents and supporters had organised for Hobsons Bay’s regular council meeting.

    At least 30 people milled around outside chambers. There was placard-waving, bag-pipe-playing and people playing dress-ups in the early autumnal dusk.

    Several speakers addressed the crowd, but it was a 12-year-old Techno Park resident that received the most appreciation: “We’re gunna win this,” she concluded amid a round of applause.

    The pre-teen’s speech was followed by a hearty chant: “Once a home, always a home/ Once a home, always a home.”

    But it all came to nought: One of the first things Mayor Matthew Tyler said was that council would not answer Techno Park questions “for legal reasons”.

    Techno Park’s poster-girl, Lara Week was sitting in the public gallery’s fourth row. Her now-familiar face fell when Cr Tyler said council’s only comment had already been made on its website. 

    Ms Week left soon after.

    Council’s statement can be found here:

    In other news: Mulch-gate has resulted in an extra safety clause being added to a major council contract.

    When the motion was tabled to award the $1.54 million contract for Hobsons Bay civil and landscape construction works for the next 12 months, Cr Daria Kellander put forward an amendment.

    “In light of recent events around the asbestos contamination I’m just not comfortable awarding this contract,” she said. “So I want some clauses that mitigate the risk.” 

    The amendment was adopted unanimously and means council officers will be taking “additional precautionary measures” before awarding the landscape construction “service provision”.

    Since stumbling across asbestos in recycled mulch in Spotswood’s Donald McLean Reserve earlier this year, council has ordered inspections of parks around Hobsons Bay.

    To date, asbestos has been found in six other local reserves.


    The chamber was pretty packed at Brimbank’s council meeting this month, mostly with middle-aged men dressed in uniform blue and red polo shirts and bomber jackets.

    On closer inspection, the uniform turned out to be merchandise from Keilor Sports Club, and its wearers had been waiting almost seven years to find out if Brimbank council was going to fork out more than a few dollars for their 13,500-member sport and social club.

    Council had agreed last year to fund $150,000 for the club’s kitchen and toilets in the quoted $2.1 million upgrade.  

    The state government had promised $700,000 and the 13,500-member club had raised a further $700,000. 

    The report tabled at this month’s meeting recommended council reject the club’s request for council to match the state government’s contribution.

    There was a round of applause as Cr Virginia Tachos moved an amendment to provide the club with an extra $550,000.

    As the motion to cough up the extra cash passed by eight votes to two, the red-and-blue polo shirts got up to leave, slapping each other on the back, giving each other the thumbs up and shaking hands.

    Outside, Sports Club Chairperson, Hayden Kelly said getting the funding had been a “long haul”.

    “After seven years of hard work, everyone is feeling pretty happy,” he said.

    Oh yeah sorry, I did promise you a couple of budgets

    Residential rates will rise by almost three percent under this year’s Hobsons Bay proposed draft budget, put out for public consultation until the middle of this month.

    Under the proposed draft budget, the 2.97 percent rise will pay for projects such as the $400,000 rescue of the historic Mechanics Institute building and the $2.5 million Altona Hockey Club upgrade.

    Submissions on Hobsons Bay proposed draft budget is available until May 12 and can be found here:

    Meanwhile, Brimbank – not to be outdone – has not one, but three draft budget documents out for consultation.

    There’s the 30-page draft Financial Plan 2024 – 2034, the 80-page draft Annual Budget 2024/2025 and the 11-page draft Council Plan Annual Action Plan (Year 4) 2024/2025. 

    Now, your correspondent ain’t much good at maths, but all up that’s more than 120 pages of stats to get through.

    In amongst all those numbers, we can see Brimbank rates will also rise by almost three percent.

    Under the proposed 2.75 percent rise, Council will spend $17.6 million on parks and trees and $58.7 million on roads and footpaths.

    Submissions on Brimbank’s Financial Plan, draft Annual Budget and Council Plan Annual Action Plan (Year 4) are available until May 16 and can be found here:


    The controversial McIvor Reserve master plan will receive more than $1.5 million under Maribyrnong’s proposed annual budget, currently out for public consultation after it was passed at last month’s council meeting.

    About $321,000 of this money is allocated to the new McIvor Reserve Indoor Stadium’s schematic design and business planning.

    The proposed stadium caused great community consternation this time last year as grass roots sporting groups and park users clashed during the vote to rescind approval for the state-of-the-art six-stadium, 1000-seat indoor basketball court.

    The 2023 recission was rejected by four votes to three, meaning the McIvor Reserve development is going full-steam ahead.

    Chief Executive Officer Celia Haddock said council had completed work on initial artist impressions and 3-D elevations of the stadium and dog park area for the purpose of attracting state and federal government funding. 

    “So they’re just very draft drawings, not even schematic designs,” she said.

    She said there would be community consultation on the further $321,000 designs during the drafting process, but a timeframe was unconfirmed.

    She said council was currently working on an already-allocated $1-million investment on McIvor Reserve’s hockey and soccer club fencing, environmental soil analysis, concept planning for Yarraville Glory’s main pavilion and irrigation works within the baseball field.

    She said no money had been spent on dog park maintenance.

    The budget has no allocated funds for the dog park lights or stand-alone toilets, which Infrastructure Services Director Patrick Jess said was “part” of “future works”.

    “Implementation of the McIvor Reserve master plan and those particular items will form part of future budget considerations. Those particular items are not listed in the draft 2024/ 2025 council budget,” Mr Jess said.

    “There is some funding in next year’s draft budget for the planning, in particular the indoor stadium and dog park area, to progress it and to best position it for funding opportunities through state and federal government.”

    Rumours surrounding the development of a community garden and High Ball court were cut short, with Mr Jess saying there was “no intent” to implement these projects.

    Although council plans to more than double the 100 trees planned for removal to make way for the McIvor Reserve project, Mr Jess said there was no funds allocated to tree planting in the current budget.

    “Tree planting will occur when landscape designs are finalised and budget implementation is approved,” he said.

    He said playground upgrades, 24-hour-access stand-alone public toilets, sports field drainage, pedestrian lighting, dog park improvements and urban forest and native plantings were not planned in the proposed budget.

    “But I’d like to clarify that master plans are, and I’ve said this before, high level documents that have a whole list of projects in them and we have multiple plans across the city to implement and they are considered over a long-term plan,” he said.

    “The next stage for these items would be conceptual schematic and detailed design and then for construction for consideration in future budgets.”

    The budget will be open for community consultation until May 25 and can be found here:

    Submitters will be invited to attend the May 27 meeting to present their views before adoption in June.


    Inequalities between old and new suburbs in Wyndham proved a sticking point in the passing of the draft council budget last month.

    Areas such as Werribee, Werribee South, Little River and the original parts of Wyndham Vale and Hoppers Crossing do not have the same amount of rates gathered from new developments as others, Cr Mia Shaw said.

    “I do have some serious concerns in relation to the capital works program, older parts of Wyndham are being left behind and I hear that often from people in the wards that I represent,” she said. “They are not receiving the investment they need and deserve.”

    Cr Heather Marcus said there were groups “coming together” to go through the budget with a “fine tooth comb”.

    “Just because some of the areas are a lot older, doesn’t mean they have to be neglected. We have to look at the costs of some of the services and some of the costs that we can be cutting back on and I think this is where the people will stand up and ask why,” she said.

    “There are a lot of issues in there that I will have something to say about when this comes back after the 25th of May.”

    The proposed budget shows council’s operating surplus for 2024/25 is expected to be $245.7 million, including gifted subdivision assets, developer contributions and capital grants.

    The final budget, after depreciation and excluding gifted assets, developer contributions and capital grants is expected to be a deficit of $28 million.

    The proposed budget’s big-ticket items include Wyndham Arts Centre’s $6.5 million redevelopment.

    The proposed budget is available for community feedback until May 25 and can be found here

    A Council is only as good as the people who get involved!

    7pm Tuesday 14 May 2024 at the Hobsons Bay Civic Centre.
    The meeting will also be live streamed.

    6.30pm Tuesday 21 May 2024 at Council Chamber, Braybrook Community Hub, 107–139 Churchill Avenue.

    7pm Tuesday 21 May 2024 at Council Chamber, 301 Hampshire Rd, Sunshine West.

    6pm Tuesday 28 May 2024 at Council Chamber, Wyndham Civic Centre, 45 Princes Highway

    By Josie Vine
    RMIT senior journalism lecturer
    We all lead busy lives and don’t get time to attend council meetings or wade through council agendas and minutes. Yet local governments impact our lives more directly than any other and their decisions warrant public scrutiny. Rates, Roads and Rubbish aims to do that for you giving you a fly-on-the- wall account of council discussions and decisions.

    If you have a particular concern with your council contact: marked ATT: Rates, Roads and Rubbish, or call 0411 534 285.

    Josie Vine
    Josie Vine
    A column by Josie Vine, RMIT senior journalism lecturer.

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