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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Council delivers ‘balanced’ budget

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AMID rising inflation, severe mortgage hikes and an increasing cost-of-living crisis, Australians have voiced mixed opinions on the federal and state budgets.

Now, a little closer to home, Whitsunday residents have received the local Whitsunday Regional Council budget.

A special council meeting was held, in Proserpine, on Friday, June 30, where the budget was unveiled and a two per cent increase in rates was announced.

The 2022 budget saw a four per cent increase in rates.

This was Mayor Julie Hall’s first council budget since her election.

“This is my first budget as Mayor and my councillors and I are proud to present a balanced budget that continues to deliver essential services and enhance the liveability of our region, without impacting on our future financial sustainability,” she said.

Mayor Julie Hall said the 2023-2024 council budget ensured the essential services that the community relied upon were maintained, while also positioning the Whitsunday region for future growth and prosperity.

“Inflation up until March this year sits at 6.3 per cent, which has a huge cost impact on running business as normal for council,” Mayor Hall said.

“Against the backdrop of these financial challenges, council has worked hard to deliver a financially sustainable budget and keep any rate rise to a minimum, with an average increase in general rates for residential owner occupiers of two per cent.

“This budget reflects my commitment to ensuring that council’s financial decisions reflect the needs and priorities of our Whitsunday community.

“We understand the financial pressures faced by many families and businesses within our region and that every dollar matters to our residents.

“We have taken this into account, and we have worked diligently to develop a budget that strikes a balance between providing and retaining quality services, whilst minimising the burden on our ratepayers’ growing region.”

Highlights of council’s 2023/24 capital works program include commencing construction on a new $3.5m waste cell, at Kelsey Creek.

$2.4m towards upgrading infrastructure at regional airports including Whitsunday Coast Airport.

$11.4m on stormwater drainage, roads and footpath infrastructure including $2m for stage two of the Bicentennial Walkway.

$4.2m on gravel road re-sheeting and $500,000 on continuing the upgrades to the Edgecumbe Heights walking track.

$1.4m is dedicated to continuing the Choose Collinsville Main Street upgrade, a new pump track and improvements to the Collinsville swimming pool.

“Importantly, with an ongoing commitment to debt reduction, almost $6m has been allocated to reduce our current loans, meaning council will end the next financial year with a debt of less than $64m for an asset base of $1.2bn,” Mayor Hall said.

“In simple terms, that compares to effectively owing just $64,000 on a $1.2m home.”

Visit council’s website and Facebook page for more information and videos about the 2023-2024 budget.

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