While under the requirements of the current Local Government Act the mayor is tasked with presenting the budget, I have always ensured and required that every councillor to be part of the process from start to finish.
That process has involved strategic workshops covering every aspect of the budget, from operational priorities to responsible long-term financial management and economic development.
While every budget has been a team effort with all councillors, it is important to recognise and acknowledge the leadership role Deputy Mayor Nigel Hutton has played in his capacity as Finance Portfolio champion and chairman of the Audit Risk and Business Improvement Committee.
To have a Deputy Mayor with the skills, organisational understanding and business acumen that Councillor Hutton possesses has been a huge asset for both our council and the community.
The mentoring role he has also been able to play in helping other councillors to come up to speed in understanding the budget process has also been invaluable.
The other recognition and acknowledgement that I must give is the outstanding effort put in by the entire council organisation under the guidance of CEO Chris Murdoch and the executive leadership team.
A special mention must go the Andrea Ellis and the finance team for their patience and support in working through issues and helping councillors gain a greater understanding of the importance of fiscal discipline, to ensure the budget delivered both the best possible outcome for our community while building on the necessary foundation to also deliver long-term financial sustainability for the future.
As in previous budgets, the council has listened to the community to both understand their needs and priorities, while working to minimise increases in rates and charges.
Helping in that regard has been the organisation's efforts and success in realising efficiencies and savings.
This was primarily achieved through teamwork across the council, with each and every department working meticulously through their respective operational areas to find cost savings critical in delivering on the council's overall objectives for our community.
This hard work has been reflected in the delivery of a welcomed combined average rates and charges increases of 2 per cent for owner-occupied residential categories and 2.9 per cent for non-owner occupied categories.
In the commercial and primary production sectors, an average general rate increase of 2.1 per cent has continued the council's focus on helping the business community and industry which included a 5 per cent decrease in general rates for small to medium businesses last financial year.
The details of the council's investment of $36.1m in new capital works also highlights the ongoing commitment to continue delivering the infrastructure needed to facilitate growth and economic development while building on the foundation of $274.2 million in infrastructure capital works that the council has been able to deliver since de-amalgamation in 2014.
With no new borrowings in this year's budget, and an overall reduction in our debt from $80.5 million at June 30, 2019 to $75.6 million by the end of this financial year, the council remains on track to progressively reduce it to just $18.5 million by 2028.
Capital budget highlights
- $1.74million for pathways adding over 3km to the existing network
- $2.0m in waste management to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill
- $2.5 million in pools, sport and cultural facilities
- $2.5 m for parks and natural areas including the completion of the Capricorn Coast Memorial Gardens
- $12.7m on roads providing better connectivity with an improved regional network
- $4.7m investment in water ensuring availability and delivery of quality water supply
- $5.8m in wastewater ensuring we keep our water system healthy