The Central Highlands Regional Council 2017-2018 Budget continues a careful considerate approach to suit the prevailing local economic climate.
Mayor Kerry Hayes announced a ‘bold and brave’ holding budget for a second year to acknowledge the pressure on households to pay the bills.
‘Whilst the current consumer price index is around 1.9 per cent, we have chosen to work harder with what we have and put into practice further innovative management practice to gain more efficiencies.
‘Capital expenditure this year is comparable to last year at around $70 million and we continue to actively supplement the works programs with government funding.
‘We will receive $6.3 million from the Queensland Government for the Yamala Enterprise Area and waste water and floodways projects and the region will benefit from $2.55 million from the Works for Queensland Fund over the next two years.
‘Ongoing Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery works from Cyclone Debbie will total in excess of $30 million over the next few financial years,’ the mayor explained.
‘We continue to exercise a prudent approach to the cash position and have maintained a low level of borrowings with an amount of $5 million anticipated for this financial year.
‘There are green shoots in the economy, but it is still a time for caution.
‘Notwithstanding the reduction our revenue, we will continue to create the best value we can and provide the smart, cost effective services that residents expect.
‘Increases in utilities have been restricted to a sewer charge of $10.00 per pedestal that will help pay for the significant and essential upgrade to Black Gully wastewater treatment plant that is currently under construction at a total cost of $22 million.
‘The early payment incentive period remains at 30 days and ratepayers will benefit by 10 per cent if their rates are paid within this period.
‘Rates notices will be issued twice a year in August and February and the pensioner concession of
50 per cent is unchanged.
‘For the first time in many years the budget will be presented as a deficit because the Australian Government’s Financial Assistance Grants were received in the preceding financial year. The 2017-2018 Budget shows a $1.25 million operating deficit that, when adjusted for the early payment, has an underlying surplus of $3.15 million.
‘Whichever way you look at it, this is a tight budget and we will have to be on our mettle to keep it in balance during the year. However, in saying that, I’m confident that the Central Highlands is in a sound financial position and this budget will hold us in good stead in the years to come,’ the mayor concluded.