Rates up, council revenue down in 2016/17 budget
WESTERN Downs Regional Council has been forced to tighten its purse strings as a result of reduced resources sector revenue and decreased state and federal funding.
Council has had to reduce its operating costs by $20.3 million and adapt how it does business to match changes in the local economy, which has had a $18.2 million reduction in resources revenue and government funding year on year.
Despite the downturn, the 2016/17 budget, which was adopted on Monday, has council paying off a further $15 million in debt across the next financial year, following on from the $25 million in debt paid down last year.
Rates on the average residential property have risen by $23.68 a year or $0.46 a week.
Rates on the average rural property general rate will increase $95.26 a year or $1.84 a week.
The average intensive industries, resources and energy sector property rates will increase by $1,675 per year or $32.21 per week.
Water access charges and sewerage charges will increase by $50 per year respectively.
A new Environmental Waste charge will be introduced. This will be an annual charge of $50 per year ($0.97 per week for rural ratepayers).
A number of projects are in the works, with council splashing $2.8 million on economic development and liveability, investing $61.6 million on the region’s road infrastructure, and $17.2 million on Chinchilla’s new water treatment plant.
Western Downs Regional Council 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.
At Monday’s special budget meeting, Cr 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.
“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.”
Other key elements of the 2016/17 budget include a
$1.2 million Myall Creek Park upgrade in Dalby, $300,000 for the completion of the Miles ANZAC Park Upgrade, $200,000 for town entry signage revitalisation, $2.19 million for the completion of the Burncluith Birdge Upgrade, $1.8 million for the replacement of the Greenswamp Rd bridge and $1.75 million in stormwater upgrades for Reid, Price, Windmill and Heeney Sts.