Handing over the purse strings, Monash has its say on the next budget
Every year, Council prepares an annual budget that outlines how we’ll deliver services and programs to the community.
That budget covers things like managing our waste; upgrading our infrastructure, community facilities and parks; operating our libraries and recreation centres; holding events and festivals; and providing services for our diverse community.
Last year, as we developed our 2023-24 budget, we asked for the community’s ideas to help us prioritise the types of projects and services it wanted Council to consider. That feedback was taken into account in our draft budget.
We also offered the community the chance to hold the imaginary Council purse strings and help us decide where funding should be allocated across a range of areas. There was the chance to submit a specific budget idea or proposal for consideration, even pitch ideas directly to Councillors at a special meeting held in December 2022.
And the community took up these opportunities with great enthusiasm.
Local football (soccer) club Monash Villarreal FC is a rapidly growing club based at Hughesdale’s Argyle Reserve and at Oakleigh’s Caloola Reserve. It made its case for the installation of lights on both sporting pitches at Caloola Reserve directly to Councillors at the special meeting in December, and was successful in being included in the 2023-24 Budget.
The lack of sportsground lighting at Caloola Reserve has meant the club’s been limited in the hours it can get out on the park, particularly in winter.
“We’re a community club and we’re a growing club,” Monash Villareal president Angelo Zissis said. “We even grew during COVID times, which is amazing. And we’re already getting emails from girls (after the FIFA Women’s World Cup) who want to play. The World Cup has been a wonderful sporting event in our own backyard.
“But we needed an improvement in facilities. We have two grounds. One at Argyle, which is fully lit, and we’ve got Caloola, which is a fantastic facility but lacked lighting. It’s a winter sport, so during the week it’s only being used at 25% capacity.”
That prompted a campaign of research, preparing a bid, talking to Councillors and council staff, and with Federal and State MPs. When the opportunity came to pitch directly to Councillors, Monash Villareal was well prepared.
As well as a thorough knowledge of the facility improvements his club was bidding for, Angelo said an understanding of how those improvements would fit into the delivery of Council services as a whole – the bigger picture - was also an invaluable step in Villareal making its case.
He said the club had noted that Caloola Reserve is located in an outstanding sporting precinct. Council has recently built a multi-sport pavilion with eight new tennis courts; while the reserve is just a short distance from an Australian Rules footy ground and the Oakleigh Recreation Centre with its swimming pools and the Waverley Gymnastics Centre. Provision of sports ground lighting would increase the usage of the Caloola Reserve facility and the precinct as a whole.
“We were able to say to Councillors ‘Look you’ve done Stage 1 and you’ve done Stage 2, now do Stage 3 or Stage 4 and it’s (Caloola) the jewel in the crown of Monash recreation facilities’,” he said.
Angelo said, after his club’s successful experience in pitching a budget idea, he’d encourage any club or community member to get involved in the budget process.
“Absolutely,” he said. “But you have to put in the work to get the results. You need to make sure you’ve done your research. You need a strategic plan in place. You need to have your story in place.”
YOU TAKE THE PURSE STRINGS, GIVE US YOUR IDEAS
As we prepare the 2024/25 annual budget, once again we’re after your feedback early in the budgeting process
Visit shape.monash.vic.gov.au/budget24-25 before 19 November to: