Gladstone regional Council Budget lays platform to achieve key goals for region. Gladstone Regional Council has delivered its Budget 2015/16 – the final budget of its electoral term.
In handing down the Budget this week, Gladstone Region Mayor Gail Sellers said the document provided a solid foundation upon which the milestones included in its Corporate Plan charter could be achieved.
“By providing increased services in key areas, reducing the impact of growth demand on the region’s residents, and ensuring valued services and infrastructure are maintained and strategic infrastructure projects are funded responsibly, Council is setting the framework in which to achieve the goals incorporated into its Corporate Plan,” Councillor Sellers said.
“Although disappointed at the continued low level of assistance from the Federal and State governments, Council has come up with a Budget that addresses the burden of funding community assets that has been left to Local Government and ratepayers.
“Council has done its very best in this Budget to minimise the impact on residential ratepayers.
“Although increases in our water and sewage network, and waste collection and disposal service charges have been necessary to cover costs, there has been no increase in the average general rate for our residential, small business and commercial and light industrial ratepayers.
“On average, the typical Gladstone Region residential ratepayer will experience a 4.08 per cent increase in 2015/16, with no effective increase in the general residential rate.
“In fact, the average residential general rate falls by 0.4 per cent with a total of 46 per cent of residential property owners, or 9959 properties, receiving a rate reduction and 25 per cent, or 5434 properties, receiving an increase of five per cent.
“The balance of property owners will experience varying increases between 5-10 per cent with the maximum increase capped at 10 per cent.”
Cr Sellers said Council, in keeping with its Long Term Financial Plan, had considered its future goals for service levels, rate increases, capital programs and borrowing levels when developing the Budget.
She said Council would deliver several signature projects in Budget 2015/16 aimed at improving the amenity of several regional parks, as well as providing improved recreation options for the community.
“Among these projects are the $3.8 million Stages 1 and 2 of the Alf Larson/Lions Park Redevelopment in Miriam Vale and $1.5 million Calliope Sports (Liz Cunningham) Park Development, which Council is pleased to deliver,” Cr Sellers said.
“Council has also re-provided $5.3 million to facilitate the first stage of the Philip Street Communities Precinct, identified in the Gladstone Region Social Infrastructure Strategic Plan as the highest need for the region.
“It involves the creation of a centralised site to co-locate a number of social services in close proximity to retail areas and public transport routes, integrating community services, improving access for residents, supporting social cohesion and enhancing the delivery of social services to the community.”
Cr Sellers said Council would also invest heavily in capital expenditure with $47.5 million, or 58.8 per cent, of its capital budget earmarked to replace and repair infrastructure assets.
“These include bitumen reseals ($5.45 million), gravel resheeting ($2.49 million), rehabilitation and reconstruction of Chapman Drive ($3.46 million), completing the repair and replacement of key components of the Matthew Flinders (Marina) Bridge ($1.42 million), and water and sewerage assets replacements throughout the region totalling $12.04 million,” she said.
Cr Sellers said the considered nature of the Budget was reflected in the fact that it did not include any new borrowings and would reduce outstanding loans by almost $10 million to $158.1 million out of a total asset base of $2.31 billion – a debt ratio equivalent to 6.8 per cent of physical assets.
This was further emphasised by Council’s reduction in operational expenditure for 2015/16.
“Council has focused on business improvement initiatives across all of its activities, constantly reviewing levels of service to ensure that ratepayers receive maximum benefit for their rates, and minimising revenue pressures by critically reviewing expenditure,” Cr Sellers said.
“When compared to the 2014/15 adopted budget, expenditure growth represents an organisational saving of $4.2 million and a reduction of 3.08 per cent in Council’s operational costs.
“Even in the currently low inflation environment, this has required a sustained effort across all sections of the organisation and at all levels of Council from elected representatives through to work teams throughout the region.”