Hume Council offices, Broadmeadows. Photo / Supplied.

Draft budget proposes general rates hike of 2.75%

Updated with comment from the State Government.

Hume City Council’s draft budget for 2024-25 doesn’t meet the Victorian Government’s good practice guidelines [PDF] for service rates and charges.

Council officials have ignored the recommendation of Melissa Horne MP, Minister for local government, stating her published guidelines are not mandatory.

The objective of the guidelines is to ensure council service rates and charges:

  • Are only used to recover the reasonable costs of providing a direct service to an occupancy
  • Are calculated and declared in a fair and transparent manner; and
  • Subject to public engagement policy

A spokesperson for the Victorian Government said: “We issued these guidelines late last year when the Ombudsman raised concerns that councils were not being transparent in their use of Service Rates and Charges.

“Ultimately councils are responsible for their own practices – but it is our expectation that if they make changes to their Service Rates and Charges they do so in a transparent and open way with their ratepayers.”

Sunbury councillor Trevor Dance, who did not take part in the meeting, says council should comply with the minister’s guidelines.

Melissa Horne.
Melissa Horne MP.

“Garbage costs will go up along with increases in general rates if this budget is approved,” he said. “Residents are finding it tough paying their rent and mortgages.”

The draft budget proposes that general rates be increased by 2.75%, the maximum allowed under a State government cap.

On top of that is garbage charges, billed separately since last year to remove them from the cap.

Council also states property values across the city have risen by 2.12% on a year ago. But it is a patchy picture.

Gladstone Park, Diggers Rest, Greenvale, Dallas, and Sunbury have seen property values drop by 4.62%, 3.08%, 2.38% and 2.11% respectively. Values in Yuroke/Wildwood, Attwood, Fawkner, Westmeadows and Mickleham have increased by 17.5%, 3.66%, 3.51%, 3.13% and 3.08% respectively.

Cllr Dance also takes issue with a statement in the draft budget that councillors have ‘analysed available information and financial data’.

“It’s an absurd comment or a cunning one…So they can say councillors supported a budget knowing all data has not been made available,” says Cllr Dance. [see: Councillors vote to keep accounts secret]

Cllr Jack Medcraft said: “Budgets are never popular with people. We have to look at what the rate is, I think it is an extra $45.

“But we continue hearing from the community of the issues of waste and illegal dumping, and the general amenity of the city. This is a black mark on our community and residents deserve better. We will continue to focus on initiatives to keep all of Hume clean.

“In the Jackson’s Creek ward we are committing $1.1 million to complete the construction of new outdoor netball courts, and the supporting infrastructure of the Eric Boardman Reserve in Sunbury. Then there is the opening of the new athletics track that is going to be a highlight. There will also be $3 million to upgrade the water play area of the Sunbury Aquatic and Leisure Centre.”

Cllr Medcraft said if the budget isn’t adopted then it will put some of the planned projects in jeopardy.

The budget and council plan will be available for download via the council’s participate page, and physical copies can be seen at council’s customer service centres and libraries.

Members of the public can send in their feedback on the draft budget to council, which will meet on Monday 24 June 2024 to set the budget.