Mayor Mick Curran's first budget was handed down on Wednesday.
Mayor Mick Curran's first budget was handed down on Wednesday. Greg Miller

What's in the Budget? Read the Mayor's Speech in full

GYMPIE Regional Council on Wednesday brought down its 2015/16 budget - the first since Mayor Mick Curran was elected to the top job.

Here is a copy of Cr Curran's budget speech in full.

Mayor's 2015/16 Budget Speech

I am pleased to present Gympie Regional Council's 2015/16 budget and my first budget as Mayor.  

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.  

Major Projects

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.  

Roads, Bridges and Footpaths

Our roads, bridges and footpaths are used every day by residents and industry alike, and ensuring that they are constructed and maintained at an optimum level is necessary to deliver Council's plans for a vibrant, resilient and connected region. One of the key strategic themes in our Corporate Plan is Infrastructure which is planned, connected and safe.  

This budget includes a number of major road, bridge and footpath upgrade works totalling $6,266,530, which includes:

  • $1.1 million allocated to upgrading Bayside Road at Tin Can Bay / Cooloola Cove.
  • $1.26 million allocated to upgrade Langton Road and Hall Road in the busy industrial and commercial area of Monkland.
  • $495,000 is allocated as part of Council's ongoing effort to improve storm water drainage.
  • Almost $900,000 has been allocated for road upgrading and bitumen sealing on sections of Anderleigh Road and Noosa Rd.
  • $300,000 is programmed for footpath renewals and upgrades at Tin Can Bay, Rainbow Beach, Southside, Gympie and Woolooga.
  • $700,000 is allocated for the replacement of Tatnell Bridge on Cedar Pocket Road at Cedar Pocket.
  • $950,000 is allocated for replacing the two single lane timber bridges on Fleming Rd at Two Mile.

 Infrastructure and Plant

Council strives to be innovative when upgrading or maintaining plant and infrastructure. Investment in new technologies and processes has benefits for both our staff and the community in increased efficiencies, safety and lifespan.  

  • $1, 000 000 is allocated as an ongoing capital expense for sewer main relining in both Gympie and the Cooloola Coast.

Community Facilities and Recreation

Improvements to our region's parks, playgrounds and halls will enable our residents to access healthy and active lifestyle options and will showcase our region to visitors. Social wellbeing which is active, diverse, creative and empowered is a key Corporate theme that the following highlighted projects enhance. This budget allocates a total of $1,534,000 in capital expenses for parks including:  

  • $105, 000 for improvements at Lake Alford park.
  • $425,000 is allocated as part of a two year programme of improving facilities at Lawrie Hansen Park, Rainbow Beach.
  • An additional $70, 000 is allocated to existing funds to construct new beach access/stairs to the beach from the southern point of Phil Rogers Park at Rainbow Beach.
  • Improvements to the Tin Can Bay Foreshore.
  • $40,000 has been allocated to the purchase of play equipment at Centenary of Federation Park, Cooloola Cove.
  • $650,000 has been allocated to upgrade the Civic Centre in Gympie, including replacing air conditioning.
  • $20,000 is allocated for improving the Kilkivan Hall.
  • $40,000 is allocated to upgrade the Kinbombie amenities block.
  • $150,000 is allocated to upgrade the Gympie Showground switchboard.

Enhancing Liveability

The region's estimated resident population is almost 50,000. Over the past five years the population of the Gympie region has increased at an average annual rate of 1.7 per cent. Projections for population growth through to 2031 track to a level of approximately 64,000 people.  

Strategic town planning and placemaking is vital to ensure that the towns and communities in our region provide for the lifestyle and business needs of future residents.  

$520,000 is allocated to the streetscape improvements as part of the Our Towns project implementation in Tin Can Bay, Cooloola Cove and Goomeri. $500,000 is allocated for Mary Street Concept Implementation as part of the Gympie Town Centre revitalisation strategy. $450,000 is allocated to the Smithfield Street Concept Design Implementation as part of the Gympie Town Centre revitalisation strategy. $100,000 is allocated for the Nelson Reserve/Memorial Park Masterplan Implementation.  

Economic Development

The Gympie region is perfectly placed for growth. A major focus of Council's economic development activities is working with existing industry and businesses within our region to help facilitate opportunities for growth and profitability.  

To help achieve the vision of economic development that is vibrant, strong and resilient, this budget has an allocation of over $480,000 for Economic Development projects and initiatives including Regional Economic Development Projects  

  • The continued implementation of Gympie Region Economic Development strategy - activities and recommendations
  • Major industry development forums focussed on provision of information and development of strategies to assist industry capacity and capability development
  • Industry and business development events
  • Strengthening focus on regional event support and promotion

Tourism

Council continues to remain committed to developing tourism in the Gympie region.   Since mid 2013, Destination Gympie Region (DGR) has been Council's tourism entity for the region. Working in collaboration with Tourism and Events Queensland, Sunshine Coast Destination Limited, Fraser Coast Opportunities and Tourism Noosa, DGR has been able to increase the tourism profile of the Gympie region measurably.  

Currently there are over 500 tourism businesses within the Gympie Regional Council boundary generating approximately $140 million in direct economic benefit. The Gympie region is making the transition from an emerging destination to a new tourism region for the drive market from Brisbane and interstate and has been a key partner in an international campaign that has seen an increase in international visitation by 12%.  

Campaigns and events funded in this budget allocation of nearly $380,000 include Australia's Nature Coast international campaign, state, national and international tourism industry and media famils and also national and state promotion of our food trail and events.  

Greening the future

Council is resetting its environmental agenda as good environmental management makes good economic sense.   We have engaged with the local environmental groups to map out a process so that they can contribute to identifying what Council's environmental priorities should be and projects that groups could be allocated funding to undertake.   The small increase in the environmental levy has increased the funds available for other environmental projects that will assist in supporting the financial viability of the environmental groups who are able to help Council deliver on its environmental priorities.  

The Environmental Levy is forecast to raise over $855,000 to fund Environmental Strategy actions, including community environmental group funding.  

This figure is substantially more than any other figure for the same purpose in previous years.  

Disaster Preparedness

This budget incorporates the cost of design for a new Gympie SES building.  

The Gympie SES group has been operating from an old house in King Street for a long time. This building is advancing to its capacity to adequately hold the equipment needed by the SES.  

Council is planning to provide the Gympie SES group with a new modern facility which will include training rooms, offices, a regional administration office and sufficient storage so that all equipment, vehicles, trailers and boats can be stored under one roof.  

The provision of this new, modern facility will ensure the residents of Gympie are provided with the best possible SES service in times of emergency.  

Business Streamlining

Council operates a complex set of businesses that provide our local community with a wide range of services ranging from sewerage maintenance, disaster management, economic development to library and cultural services. We are a prime example of a complex organisation delivering many services to the community.  

Council's suite of ICT applications enable our workforce to perform their systems-based functions efficiently. A key focus of ICT in this budget is to improve business processes by leveraging existing applications and designing integrated solutions for both staff and the community to improve the way in which the community interacts with Council, and the manner in which staff access and process information.  

With streamlined internal processes Council can simply get on with the business of servicing the community. We are building an efficient and responsive organisation, and while much has happened there is still a lot more to be done.  

Conclusion

The 2015/16 budget is a responsible, balanced budget that delivers on my commitment to ratepayers.  

This budget demonstrates Council can deliver a budget with a very minor rates increase without diminishing front line services and keeping our financial position strong and secure into the future.  

I would like to thank the Councillors and Council staff for their cooperative and hard work in bringing forward this budget that will enhance the Gympie region as the natural choice to live, work and play.  

The Councillors' focus and dedication during budget deliberations makes this budget solid and well founded. Thank you to the CEO, directors and senior management for working with the Councillors to deliver this budget. In fact all of Council's staff are to be thanked for ensuring that they build efficiencies into their work practices every day to so that value for money is being achieved with every single dollar of this budget.  

This budget delivers a solid economic and community framework on which we can build on the strengths of our region to provide a prosperous, sustainable and environmentally sound future for all residents.

Thank you.  

Mayor Mick Curran

Gympie Times


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