Record works program and smart city boost in new budget

26 Jun 2018

Newcastle City Council will deliver a record $100 million works program with a forecasted surplus of $6.5 million in 2018/19, with projects in both the city's east and west among the highlights of the adopted budget.

Council's 2018/19 budget includes $279.67 million in predicted revenue and $273.19 million in outgoings. 

Twenty-four million dollars has been allocated for roads and footpaths this year, $25 million on buildings, structures and places and $19 million on projects designed to advance the city's environmental sustainability and smart city plan. 

"Newcastle's transformation into a smart, liveable and sustainable global city will gain momentum in 2018 and 19," Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said. 

"We forecast a $6.5 million surplus while more than doubling our investment in infrastructure. 

"We remain committed to delivering our vision for the city through sound financial management while matching spending priorities with the needs and desires of the community." 

Other highlights of the 2018/19 budget include: 

  • $7.1 million to upgrade local bridges 
  • $8.2 million for Newcastle's Smart City program 
  • $8.1 million to renew and upgrade the existing storm water network 
  • $7.9 million on a solar farm to be built at the Summerhill Waste Centre 
  • $5.4 million renewing parks, sporting facilities and open spaces 
  • $5.1 million on cultural facilities
  • $2.6 million to increase cycling links around the city

"Over the next 12 months, people will really start to see what it means to be a smart city," the Lord Mayor added. 

"The way we think about and interact with technology will completely change to reshape how we use public transport and locate parking, and improve services Council provides, such as rubbish collection." 

Some great developments will unfold in the city's western suburbs, with action to address flood mitigation in the Wallsend CBD and substantial renewable-energy generation beginning following construction of the five-megawatt solar farm at Summerhill. 

"Around $2 million will be invested in lifting the Tyrrell Street Bridge at Wallsend, the first of three that will be raised in its CBD, to address flooding that regularly affects the town centre," Councillor Nelmes said. 

"The nearby solar farm will be another highlight - it will produce enough energy to run the equivalent of 1,300 households, meaning significant environmental returns for ratepayers and millions of dollars in savings on electricity costs. 

"We are building sustainability into everything we do given Council's commitment to generate 30 per cent of our electricity needs from low-carbon sources and cut overall electricity usage by 30 per cent by 2020. 

"Increasing our renewable energy capability and finding more energy-efficient solutions is an integral part of our long-term vision to become a smart, liveable and sustainable city." 

Council CEO Jeremy Bath said the budget had also made provision for a move aimed at raising Council's productivity. 

"Around $7 million has been set aside to relocate Council's administrative staff to Newcastle West to help us better service rate payers in one consolidated building, instead of the four we work from now," Mr Bath said. 

"Planning on the layout of the new building in Stewart Avenue is now underway with consideration of how we can ensure we not only attract the highest calibre employees to Council, but ensure our existing staff are accommodated in a manner that allows for more effective, productive employees."