Council budget: What the Mayor said in her speech

 

GLADSTONE Regional Council has presented its 2015-16 budget this morning. Here's what Mayor Gail Sellers said in her budget speech.

I am pleased to present Gladstone Regional Council's Budget 2015/16, the final Budget of this Council's electoral term, which delivers a $262.6 million investment in the Gladstone Region.

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As one of the fastest growing Local Government areas in Queensland, with a population predicted to double over the next 20 years, Council needs smart plans for the Gladstone Region's future.

Councillors and staff spent several months developing this Budget, to ensure our short-term decisions are consistent with our Long Term Financial Plan.

Budget 2015/16 delivers on our Corporate Plan promise to improve the everyday things and helps us to achieve our long-term goals.

Back to basics approach

It is a Budget that places an emphasis on the basics with a focus on providing services in key areas; reducing the impact of growth demand on our residents and community; ensuring valued services and infrastructure are maintained; and providing responsible funding, while also looking to the future of our region.

The Budget also delivers the funds needed to maintain and develop community assets related to the region's growth, addressing the inability of other tiers of government to provide essential funding and share the responsibility.

However, Council will not give up exploring all available funding assistance options in this regard.

What to expect

Here's what you can expect from this year's Budget:

Council will look to deliver signature projects aimed at enhancing the amenity of several regional parks and providing improved recreation options for the community.

It is a Budget that places an emphasis on the basics with a focus on providing services in key areas

Among these projects are the $3.8 million Stages 1 and 2 of the Alf Larson/Lions Park Redevelopment at Miriam Vale and the $1.5 million Calliope Sports (Liz Cunningham) Park Development, both of which will dramatically transform the sporting and recreational landscape within their respective townships.

Council will invest $80.83 million on capital expenditure items, including $47.5 million in infrastructure replacement repair and replacement projects, including bitumen resealing ($5.45 million) and gravel resheeting ($2.49 million) of roads throughout the region.

Major works planned

A total of $3.46 million will be spent on the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Chapman Drive at Clinton, $1.42 million to complete the repair and replacement of key components of the Matthew Flinders Bridge at Gladstone Marina, and $12.04 million on water and sewerage asset replacements, including the Miriam Vale and Boyne Island waste water treatment plants.

These projects will be delivered in addition to a 0.04 per cent drop in the average general residential rate.

What will happen with rates

A total of 46 per cent of residential property owners, or 9959 properties, will receive a rate reduction in 2015/16, with 25 per cent, or 5434 properties, to receive an increase of five per cent.

The balance of property owners will experience varying increases between five and 10 per cent with the maximum increase capped at 10 per cent.

Council has also endeavoured to reduce its costs by embarking upon business improvement initiatives across all of its activities, constantly reviewing service levels to ensure that ratepayers receive maximum benefit for their rates, and minimising revenue pressures by critically reviewing expenditure.

How much council has saved

When compared to the 2014/15 adopted budget, implemented expenditure measures represent 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, and all are to be congratulated on achieving this task.

In keeping with the Budget's status as a solid and responsible document, there are no new borrowings for 2015/16.

Loan repayments will total $19.23 million in 2015/16, reducing Council's outstanding loans by $9.98 million to $158.1 million out of its total asset base of $2.3 billion, a debt ratio equivalent to 6.8 per cent of physical assets.

No new borrowing planned

There are no additional borrowings forecast during the next 10 financial years.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues, CEO Mr Stuart Randle, Directors Cale Dendle, Leisa Dowling and Paul Keech, Chief Financial Officer Mark Holmes; and staff for all the work they did this year in assisting with the preparation of Council's Budget 2015/16.

I encourage all residents to view our Budget and to contact Council if they have any questions.

I will leave it to my fellow Councillors to release key features within each of their respective portfolios.

I commend this Budget to you.