Challenging budget after flood
RATES will increase by 4.7% across the region, Gympie Mayor Ron Dyne announced yesterday, while revealing council’s budget for the next financial year.
He said this year’s budget deliberations had been a challenge, given the flood disaster and the need to adapt to an ever-changing, national economic environment.
“Council is conscious of the requirement to plan into the future and implement decisions to ensure the long-term financial sustainability of this council.
“Foremost in councillors’ minds are the pressures faced by ratepayers in the areas of rising costs and their capacity to pay,” he said.
“The challenge 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.”
Cr Dyne said the goals of council’s corporate plan are for a vibrant community, sustainable economy, responsibly managed environment, and strong council leadership. He said these goals will be progressed in this budget.
“Councillors and staff at all levels are committed to work diligently to ensure that the desired outcomes of this budget are achieved.
“In delivering this budget, the council is committed to the continued provision of good governance for the betterment of the Gympie region and to have the community share our corporate goal: Gympie is the region that people are proud to call home.”
Cr Dyne said the 2011/2012 budget, which had now been adopted, projected a total expenditure of $131 million.
“It has not been necessary to draw down any new loans during this 2011/2012 budget period.
He listed the following considerations as factors impacting on the budget’s formulation:
- The ever-increasing expectations of our community in all areas of services provided by council;
- The flood damage works required on council’s infrastructure systems affected by the 2011 floods, together with the unexpected council expenditure which occurred as a result of this event;
- Managing the range and quality of our infrastructure and services;
- Construction and maintenance costs of local government infrastructure have increased as a result of the State’s terrible summer of floods and cyclones. Costs have been pushed up to around 7.5% in the Local Government Cost Index, well beyond CPI;
- Increased environmental requirements in relation to water, sewerage and waste management operations;
- State Government changes to the Local Government Act, with greater emphasis on financial sustainability and asset management;
- Reduction in government funding;
- Large increases in energy costs.
Cr Dyne said this budget, which takes effect tomorrow, is the first to utilise the new site valuation methodology adopted by the valuer-general, as determined by the Department of Environment and Resource Management.
“It is expected that the new method of valuation will impact minimally relative to previous revaluations, with the exception of a small number of assessments.”
Discount where applicable, will be 5%, and council’s rebate for eligible pensioners will be $140 per year.
“The budget that the council has adopted today will progress the Gympie Regional Council area.
“It provides the capacity to continue with capital improvement as well as major restorative infrastructure works due to flood damage and to meet the increasing demands of our growing region as well as our environmental responsibilities for a sustainable future.
“It takes a dedicated team to advance the Gympie Region and achieve a sustainable council.”