Council firm on rates increase

AN UNAPOLOGETIC Gympie Regional Council voted unanimously yesterday to adopt its "conservative" $125 million Budget and 3.5% rates rise.

No debate or comment was offered before or after the 2012-13 Budget was brought down, though deputy mayor Tony Perrett and Cr Julie Walker both applauded the council for a "challenging" job well done.

Pensioners will find some joy in the document and an extra $20 in their pocket, with the pensioner rebate lifted to $160 a year.

Mayor Ron Dyne defended the rates rise, saying he and his councillors had fulfilled their pre-election promise to "control and contain" rates and that this was the lowest rates rise in several years and barely higher than the CPI.

The biggest slice of the funding pie has gone to roads damaged by successive wet seasons, with a total of $36m allocated for flood restoration, road maintenance and capital roadworks over the next 12 months.

A new advisory group will be funded under the $273,800 economic development budget and tasked with nurturing business and industry throughout the region, and shoring up Mary St's future as the heart of Gympie City.

This initiative was welcomed by new Mary St entrepreneurs David and Carissa Bell, who said they chose Mary St over a shopping centre for their jewellery store specifically for that reason.

"We purposefully chose Mary St because we think it is the heart of Gympie," Carissa said yesterday. "It needs attention. It needs specialty stores and its own attractions to give it a point of difference."

The Gympie aquatic centre, another red hot election issue, will gain more traction, with $270,000 budgeted to draw up detailed construction designs.

"This project is being given priority during the Gympie Regional Council term," said councillor Dyne.

It will cost another $492,000 next year to maintain and upgrade council's existing pools.

Gympie Times

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