ACT residents will pay higher rates, spend more money on vehicle registration and see pay parking extended after hours in many of Civic’s car parks under the 2015-16 ACT budget handed down this afternoon.
In good news, the ACT Government has allocated more money for health and education than ever before. It also plans to increase the payroll tax threshold and eliminate taxes on general and life insurance by July 2016.
Here are some of the budget highlights:
- The Territory’s operating balance will see a deficit of $597 million in 2014-15, and a predicted deficit of $407 million in 2015-16. This is largely due to the Mr Fluffy legacy, cuts to the ACT’s share of the GST and reductions in Commonwealth health funding.
- The ACT budget is expected to return to a modest surplus of $50 million by 2018-19.
- The ACT Treasury projects economic growth of 1 1/2 per cent in 2015-16, with year on year employment expected to grow by 3/4 per cent.
Fees and charges
- General rates will increase by nine per cent on average for both commercial and residential properties.
- 2015-16 will be the last year that duty will apply on general and life insurance policies, with the tax on insurance being fully abolished on 1 July 2016.
- Payroll tax threshold will be increased to $2 million by 2016-17.
- The ambulance levy will increase by $6.24 to $131.56 for individuals and $12.48 to $263.12 for families.
- The fire and emergency services levy will increase from $130 to $196 for residential and rural properties.
- The ACT’s overall health budget is $1.5 billion – the biggest it has ever been and nearly one-third of the total ACT Budget.
- Canberra’s hospitals will receive $161 million in new health funding over four years, including $40.6 million in extra funding for more beds and services, plus $14.8 million over two years to provide an extra 500 elective surgeries.
- 16 extra acute care beds across Canberra and Calvary Hospitals.
- Canberra Hospital will receive a new sterilising facility at a cost of $17.3 million.
- $5.6 million to Calvary Hospital to refurbish and purchase new equipment for its operating theatre, plus an additional $3.7 million for new imaging services.
- $800,000 in funding to go to drug treatment and support services in response to Canberra’s ice scourge.
- $31.9 million over four years to boost mental health services.
- The 2015-16 education budget is $1.1 billion, the biggest in the ACT’s history.
- $10.7 million to build a new CIT campus in Tuggeranong, plus $2.6 million to upgrade existing CIT campuses at Reid and Bruce.
- Belconnen High School will receive $18.4 million to refurbish and upgrade existing facilities.
- $30.3 million for the North Gungahlin Primary School, scheduled to open in January 2019.
- $37.8 million to replace and upgrade computers and expand wireless capability across ACT primary schools.
- $1 million to conduct feasibility studies for a Year 7-10 school in North Gungahlin and a primary to Year 10 school in Molonglo.
- $615,000 for the training of teachers and support staff about domestic violence, and the development of an online resource centre to connect families to support services.
- $700 million has been allocated to capital works in the 2015-16 budget, $200 million of which is new spending.
- $10.1 million over four years to begin the transformation and renewal of West Basin, with the construction of a new park and intersections on Commonwealth Avenue.
- $159.2 million over two years to replace 352 public housing properties along the Northbourne Avenue corridor, as well as at Allawah Court and the Red Hill Housing Precinct.
- The budget explains that the ACT Government will pay for Capital Metro by making a capital contribution of $375 million after construction is complete.
- $20 million in ongoing Northbourne Avenue corridor work to prepare infrastructure for Capital Metro.
- $14.2 million over three years to progress the redevelopment of the ACT Supreme and Magistrates courts.
- $24.6 million over three years to duplicate Ashley Drive from Erindale Drive to Ellerston Avenue.
- $62.3 million for road upgrades in Gungahlin, including $31.2 million to duplicate Gundaroo Drive between Gungahlin Drive and Mirrabei Drive.
- Traffic lights at the intersections of Belconnen Way and Springvale Drive, and where Hindmarsh Drive intersects with Launceston Street and Eggleston Crescent.
- $700,000 to undertake strengthening works on bridges along the Monaro Highway from Pialligo Avenue to Isabella Drive.
- $2.3 million to progress the Government’s transport reform agenda and adapt to future transport challenges.
- Introduction of after hours paid parking in Civic from 1 September 2015 is expected to generate $5 million in additional revenue over four years.
- Car, truck, motorbike and trailer registrations will increase by five per cent.
- Cost of drivers’ licences to rise by three per cent (a five-year full licence issue or renewal will now cost $171.60, up from $167.10).
- Car registration administration fees reduced from $15 per transaction to $10 per transaction.
- Six per cent increase in paid parking. The hit equates to about $230 extra for full-time workers in Canberra this year.
- $1.3 million over four years to increase the operation of Canberra’s mobile speed cameras.
- $8 million over four years for more frequent mowing, weed control, maintenance of trees, shrubs, lakes and ponds, plus and graffiti methods.
- $200,000 for playground safety upgrades.
- $1.7 million to revamp the Erindale and Weston Group Centres.
- $250,000for feasibility studies to improve walking and cycling access around Tuggeranong and Kingston.
- $1.5 million over two years for lighting and footpath improvements in Haig Park, and Mort and Lonsdale Streets in Braddon.
- First home owners grant to be reduced from $12,500 to $10,000 from 1 January 2016, and to $7000 from 1 January 2017.
- Stamp duty cuts of up to one third to target middle and lower end of the market.
- Funding for Melrose High School oval upgrade, including a FIFA accredited synthetic soccer field.
- $4.6 million over two years to upgrade Phillip Oval.
- $871,000 in extra funding to maintain the quality of neighbourhood ovals.
Justice and social inclusion
- Funding for a fifth ACT Supreme Court judge at a cost of $3.1 million over three years.
- $2.1 million over four years to allow adult offenders to participate in restorative justice.
- $156 million for ACT Policing, up $1 million on the previous budget.
- An additional $867,000 in funding for Canberra’s Legal Aid Commission.
- $107 million in recurrent funding for disability and therapy services, plus $83.4 million for child and youth protection services and $160 million for housing and homelessness support.