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Posted on: 16 July, 2019

Councils 2019-20 Budget designed to deliver a sustainable long-term future for our community

Last week Mayor Bill Ludwig presented the Livingstone Shire Council final budget of this term of Council, saying it was designed to deliver a sustainable long-term future for our community while delivering the lowest possible increase in rates and charges

Mayor Bill Ludwig said, as with every budget brought down since Livingstone Shire Council re-established six year ago, the 2019-20 budget has been the culmination of months of extensive workshops between Councillors, the senior management team and key departmental officers.

“The entire Council organisation, under the guidance of CEO Chris Murdoch and the Executive Leadership Team, must be congratulated for realising the efficiencies and cost savings needed to achieve the positive results that this budget will deliver for the community,” Cr Ludwig said.

“These efficiencies savings were substantially achieved through last year’s organisational restructure that identified more than $4 million dollars of operational savings.

“A special mention in particular must also go to our Chief Financial Officer Andrea Ellis and the Finance Team for their patience and support in assisting Councillors gain a greater understanding of the importance of fiscal discipline in setting the long-term underlying objectives of the budget.

“This has ensured that the budget presented will continue to deliver both the best possible outcomes for our community, while building on the necessary foundation to also deliver long-term financial sustainability for the future.

“Building on the solid foundation that has been laid since our community regained our independence and re-establishment of our Shire Council in 2014, the 2019-20 budget was well-considered with a pro-active strategies and a clear vision for our future.

“As Mayor the primary directions I gave Councillors and the Executive Leadership Team was that Council needed to deliver a responsible budget, while delivering the lowest possible levels of increase in General Rates, Utilities and Separate Charges.

“The other two key elements of the budget was a focus on ensuring that there would be no new borrowings and a progressive level of debt reduction while still delivering a solid $36.1 million capital works program across the Shire.

“This will see debt decreasing once again from $80.5million at the 30th June 2019 to $75.5 million and on-track to reduce by approximately 80% to $18.5 million by 2028.

“The budget’s positive long-term financial forecast is another direct reflection of Council’s pro-active commitment in supporting and implementing the recommended streamlining of organisational structures to realise greater operational efficiencies.

“These cost-saving measures have also seen an underlying operating surplus of $98,000 for 2019-20 and a forecast 10 years of operating surpluses.

“That positive result has been made possible by Council’s continuing successes over the past six years in also pro-actively securing over $120 million (already received) in State and Federal funding. It means that by the end of this financial year Council will have delivered for our community more than $310.1 million in critical trunk infrastructure and major job-creating economic development projects with no net increase in debt.

“In addition Council has secured an additional $52.4 million in commitments from State and Federal, including $31.8 million in State funding for GKI power and water infrastructure and the recent Federal Government commitment to the critical $21.6 million upgrade of Stanage Bay Road.

“This is a solid achievement well above and beyond what would be considered possible for a Council of our size, especially when put in the context of working through the combined challenges and impacts of de-amalgamation and five declared weather events that have impacted on our Shire.

With the economic and community benefits of these major projects now progressively flowing through, Council’s continued focus on consolidation through the 2019-20 budget has once again be prudent, timely and well-considered.

Major projects on track to be delivered during 2019-20 include:

• New Water Reservoir for West Emu Park to meet current and future demand by providing a reliable potable water source - $2.2 million
• Stage 2 of Landfill entry works which includes construction of a resource recovery area - $2.0 million
• Water Recycling System Augmentation - $1.9 million
• Stage 1 of a full reconstruction of Matthew Flinders Drive - $1.5million
• Renewal of unsealed rural gravel roads - $1.3 million
• Stage 1 upgrade of upgrading Adelaide Park Road - $1.3 million
• Upgrade pool, amenities and filtration system at Cooee Bay Pool - $1.2 million
• Completion of the Emu Park Village & Foreshore Revitalisation - $1.0 million
• Taranganba State School bus set down $0.9 million
• Rural sealed pavement renewal program - $0.9 million
• 2.4klm shared pathway from Oak Tree Retirement Village to Barmaryee Multi-sports Precinct - $0.8 million
• Completion of the Capricorn Coast Memorial Gardens - $0.85 million
• Completion of the Yeppoon Sewerage Treatment Plant Augmentation - $0.81 million
• Construction of a new art gallery at Emu Park - $0.8 million
• Reconstruction of Whitman Street $0.8 million
• Upgrades to the Emu Park Sewerage Treatment Plan - $0.8 million
• Flood mitigation works at Yeppoon Creek outlets -$0.7 million
• Upgrade sections of Lake Mary Road to gravel road standard - $0.7 million
• Replacement of water main along Fountain and Clements Streets - $0.65 million
• Water main reticulation replacement program $0.65 million
• Upgrade Greenlake Road-Lake Mary Road Intersection to sealed standard $0.56 million
• Expansion and upgrade of the Mill Gallery Yeppoon - $0.50 million
• Upgrade Paddy Swamp Road Road to B-double standard - $0.50 million
• Completion of the shared pathway along Scenic Highway - $0.5 million

In total, just over $14.5 million, or 41% of total capital expenditure, has been set aside in the capital budget for roads and associated transport infrastructure with a further $5.8 million planned for maintenance programs.

It is important to once again to note Council’s success in securing a significant proportion of funding, amounting to $9.9 million from State and Federal funding sources, to build the infrastructure for our future, and to also express our appreciation for that continued funding support.

“With the significant investment Council has already made in the areas of job creating projects and major trunk infrastructure of the past six budgets, there are no new planned borrowings in this budget or future budgets until 2024-25.

On another positive note the total value of the community’s net assets has further increased over the past 12 months from $903.4 million to a current value of $914.8 million and forecast to reach approximately $1.05 billion by 2028.

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