What's in the budget? A look at the Mayor's budget speech
THE following is the first portion of a speech made by Mick Curran yesterday in delivering the 2015/16 130 million Gympie Regional Council budget.
"Progressing our region and making it the natural choice to live, work and play requires a commitment to projects and activities that connect residents, business and visitors to the benefits of the region.
"In this budget council is investing $52 million to deliver capital projects that will enhance the liveability of our region.
"This is a budget put together by a cohesive team of Councillors, CEO and staff striving to deliver quality services and infrastructure to our region while being fiscally responsible and efficient.
"The external forces that affect the budget can be daunting at times - changes and cost cutting from federal and state governments, the impacts of natural disasters and the changing demographics and demands of our community.
"We have met these challenges and this budget succeeds in balancing the need for financially responsible governance and our commitment to deliver important infrastructure and a high standard of services to our community.
"This budget is based on:
Increasing the rates early payment discount to 10% in the second rates notice issue;
Keeping general rates rises to a minimum;
Delivering projects that will make the Gympie region the natural choice to live, work and play; and
Streamlining internal processes to increase efficiencies with no decrease in services.
"This budget has converted the visions and the strategies contained in council's Operational and Corporate Plans into actions, ensuring that there are sufficient resources for the realisation of projects in a financially responsible way.
"This budget, with the lowest rates increase in this council's history, both in gross rates terms and after discount will guide the growth of our region in all aspects of our lifestyle now and into the future.
Rates and charges
"The second rates notice issue of 2015/16 will see early payment discount rise to 10% from the current 5%.
"In 2015/16 we will deliver a minimal rise of 2.67%, reducing to 0.15% when the 10% discount is applied.
"In real terms, the rates rise for a home with an unchanged valuation that attracts the minimum rate will be only $3.86 annually.
"We have worked very hard to increase efficiencies and keep a cap on council costs.
"The pensioner rebate will remain at $160, continuing our practical recognition of the financial challenges faced by those in our region on fixed and limited incomes.
"The low rises and increased discount delivers my election promise and also reflects council's ongoing commitment to delivering value for money for our ratepayers.
"Demand for a quality aquatic centre in our region has increased significantly as our population continues to grow.
"The Gympie Aquatic Recreation Centre (ARC) will accommodate this increasing demand and will be a wonderful asset to the region and whilst enhancing liveability.
"This budget allocates $6 million to ARC which, added to the $5 million pledged by the Federal Government, means that tenders for construction can be sought in a matter of weeks, giving the green light for this $20 million community asset to become a reality. It will bring employment opportunities, boost the region's economy and provide health and recreation opportunities to people of all ages and abilities in our community."
Major projects portfolio councillor, Mark McDonald, is chairman of the committee overseeing development of the Gympie ARC and emphasised yesterday that the facility would be a state-of-the-art regional attraction that will be a destination unto itself.
"People will travel for miles to visit this magnificent centre - from throughout the region and far beyond it," he said.
"When the kids get a hold of this they won't let it go."
Read Cr Curran's full speech.