Eliminating the deficit

The council budget for 2022/2023 was adopted last week, with the officer report stating that council is facing a loss in excess of $50 million from COVID:

Excerpt from council agenda 23rd June 2022. Image credit: City of Yarra.

The Municipal Monitor’s report was also released last week, stating that council’s current financial position is unsustainable:

Excerpt from report from Municipal Monitor. Image credit: State Government.

The Annual Plan for 2022/2023 was also adopted last week, offering a hint as to a solution:

Action #38 from the Annual Plan for 2022/2023. Image credit: City of Yarra.

How e-permits can eliminate the structural deficit

Digital parking permits, or e-permits, offer a solution to council’s structural deficit because they offer a simple, effective, and low-cost way of charging commuters to park on Yarra’s streets. Although Yarra has already installed parking meters for over 2,000 of the total of 47,000 on-street bays, they aren’t scalable across the whole of Yarra, while e-permits are.

Only 2,200 out of 47,000 on-street parking bays are metered. Image credit: Streets Alive Yarra.

Yarra can roll out paid parking for commuters across the whole municipality by changing the parking signs from time-restricted (e.g. 2-hour or 4-hour) to permit zone:

It’s low-cost to change parking signs. Image credit: Streets Alive Yarra

Clearly, existing residential and business permits would remain valid for these permit zones. Commuters would purchase a digital permit using a smartphone app. Pricing could be set at a low rate, e.g. $10 per day, with the first hour free to support traders. Pricing could also vary across the municipality, e.g. $20 per day in Collingwood or Cremorne, and $5 per day in Clifton Hill or Burnley. Many options exist for implementation, for example:

  • 4,000 bays at an average of $10/day for 250 days/year would raise $10 million per year
  • 10,000 bays at an average of $10/day for 250 days/year would raise $25 million per year
  • 20,000 bays at an average of $10/day for 250 days/year would raise $50 million per year

What could council do with $50 million per year?

With an extra income of $50 million per year, in a single 4-year term council could:

  • pay off all loans,
  • acquire land for significant new public open space,
  • fund reviews required to support Design and Development Overlays (DDOs),
  • increase funding for active transport to $10 million per year, and
  • still have money left over to invest in other services.

Decisions…avoided by previous Councils

We interpret the report from the Municipal Monitor to mean that reform to on-street parking is one of the decisions avoided by previous Councils. We encourage this Council to accelerate action #38 of the annual plan, not only because it is material to our budget, but because it would place council in a strong position to continue to fund a range of services that help deliver social justice.

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Published 26th June 2022.