Western Downs Regional Council has adopted its budget for 2015/16. Photo contributed.
Western Downs Regional Council has adopted its budget for 2015/16. Photo contributed. Contributed

Council budget hampered by contracting resources sector

WESTERN Downs Regional Council has adopted its 2016/17 budget and will pay down a further $15 million debt across the next financial year, splashing $2.8 million on economic development and liveability across the region and reducing operating expenditure by $20.3 million.

Mayor Paul McVeigh said the budget demonstrated Council’s commitment to strong financial management, balancing its responsibility to deliver value for money services while still supporting economic growth and improving the liveability of our towns.

The additional $15 million debt reduction on top of the $25 million debt reduction in February will result in significant savings for our future, he added.

Council has proactively reduced its operating costs by $20.3 million and adapted how it does business to match changes in the local economy.

The 2016/17 Budget will see Council revenue fall by $18.2 million as a result of contraction in the resources sector and anticipated decreased Government funding.

$2.8 million will be used to fund economic development through a range of projects which will boost tourism, liveability and investment in the region.

At today’s special Budget Meeting, Western Downs Regional Council Mayor Paul McVeigh said he was extremely proud of the work of Council and staff to deliver a Budget that addressed the economic reality of reduced revenue by striking the balance between responsible financial management and continuing to invest in the community.

“Like other councils affected by the downturn of the resources sector, we’ve had to adapt our business to align with the reality of decreasing revenue. The boom is over and this is our new normal,” he said.

“It’s critically important to our region’s future success that we are financially responsible and operate within our means to continue to deliver quality services to our entire region.

“We also need to continue to invest in the things that matter and make positive differences to our communities.

“Our 2016/17 Budget is built with an eye on the future and economic sustainability of our region with a strong focus on enhancing the liveability of our communities.”

Key elements of the 2016/17 budget include:

$17.2 million Chinchilla Water Treatment Plant Upgrade (total project cost)

$1.2 million Myall Creek Park Upgrade in Dalby (including Jack Cavanagh Bridge replacement)

$300,000 Chinchilla Botanical Gardens Master Plan and Community Consultation

$300,000 Miles ANZAC Park Upgrade (project completion)

$200,000 Town Entry Signage and Revitalisation

$1.4 million Western Downs Tourism Investment Project joint venture with Australia Pacific LNG (rolled out over three years)

“We’ve also kept an eye on essential infrastructure and maintaining our vast road and bridge network with $61.6 million invested to maintain over 10,000 kilometres of roads,” Cr McVeigh added.

“This budget lays down a platform for a prosperous future. It creates a strong financial position and enables Council to invest in and maintain assets that our residents and visitors will use for generations to come.”

For the full Mayoral Budget Statement as well as 2016/17 Budget Key Messages and FAQs visit Council’s webpage.


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