IT IS fair to say that the result of this year's council elections for Gympie Regional Council reflected a view from the community that the first Gympie Regional Council had served the community well and there was no need for drastic change.
It is against this backdrop that I am pleased to say that the council yesterday has been able to table a responsible budget which reflects the economic mood of the community but also continues to plan for the future.
The budget reflects the ongoing effort to restore the region's roads from the floods of the last two years and other projects relating to key responsibilities, including waste management and recreational facilities.
One of the challenges for the council is to establish a firm footing for developing the region's long-term sustainability with an appropriate and yet modest increase in the general rate while at the same time delivering infrastructure and services which reflect the diverse needs of the community and which would meet the expectations of the residents of any regional centre and its surrounds.
The following considerations have impacted on this budget:
1. The ever increasing expectations of our community in all areas of services provided by the council;
2. The flood damage works required on council's infrastructure systems affected by the 2011/12 floods, together with the unexpected council expenditure which occurred as a result of this event;
3. Construction and maintenance costs of local government infrastructure continues to increase markedly due to ongoing flood reconstruction as well as pressure due to the mining boom;
4. The continued slowdown in development resulting in significantly reduced income from fees.
The damage to infrastructure from the February 2011 flood event across the region placed an enormous burden on staff and finances.
While much work has been undertaken to repair roads, it is ongoing and compounded by the lesser, but still damaging floods earlier this year. Many roads have had temporary repairs put in place which will remain for some time, while the backlog of work is completed.
Council will be undertaking major initiatives in waste management in the coming years which will reflect the need to manage and dispose of waste in the most environmentally and cost effective manner (see At A Glance).
A fixed charge will be introduced for residents in the former Kilkivan and Tiaro shires who are not receiving a kerbside service. The council expends significant funds maintaining transfer stations in the western sections of the region and it was considered inequitable for some residents to have free waste disposal while others paid the full cost of the service. Council will be phasing in the charge over two years with the charge in the first year being $60.
Flood restoration and roadworks
Waste management, Bonnick Rd transfer station
Economic development, Mary St and Kilkivan and Kandanga streetscapes
Maintaining and upgrading swimming pools $1.724m
Parks capital improvements