Council delivers sustainable budget

Burdekin Shire Council has today delivered a sustainable $67 million budget despite significant cost impacts.

Mayor Bill Lowis said the total budgeted rates and charges increase compared to last year’s Budget was 5.5 per cent.

“This is quite an achievement considering the major cost impacts on this year’s Budget,” he said.

“This Shire has about $592 million worth of assets that will need to be replaced at some stage and we have to fund that replacement.

“A freezing of the Financial Assistance Grant by the Federal Government, increased electricity costs, increased insurance costs, legislative requirements and a static population – have all combined to leave us with little choice in increasing rates.

“Council has spent many hours formulating this budget – we have focussed on the essentials and tried our best to keep the rate rises to a minimum.

“The average general rate has increased 6.5 per cent, waste service charge is up 3 per cent, sewerage is up 4 per cent and the water access charge has risen by 5 per cent.”

Cr Lowis said all Council funds were balanced or had operating surpluses which demonstrated the organisation’s sustainability.

“I believe this Budget is a good balance between the competing needs of maintaining our assets and infrastructure and the delivery of services and programs to the community,” he said.

“Sustainability must also raise the issue of affordability and I have already flagged a review of the level of infrastructure assets and levels of service.

“In addition to this, we are focussing efforts on other cost-saving measures, such as energy efficiencies and revised operating and management arrangements for the Burdekin Theatre and Burdekin Memorial Hall.

“Permanent savings can be made by opting out of services or reducing service levels, but these are more difficult decisions as they affect our ratepayers and the community.

“The 2014-15 Budget includes approximately $45 million in operational expenditure (including about $10.2 million in depreciation and amortisation) and capital expenditure of approximately $20.5 million.

“We are expecting to borrow $2 million and our expected external debt level will be $7.94 million.”

The full Budget documents are available on Council’s website.

Some of the major projects include the following:

  • Allocation of $9.6 million for maintenance and capital works on roads, drainage and reseals.
  • An allocation of $3.8 million for flood-damaged restoration works approved under the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements and funded by the State and Commonwealth.
  • Continuation of an eight-year program to provide kerbing and channelling and bitumen widening to urban streets that do not require major underground drainage at a cost of $1.17 million.
  • Drainage projects totalling $820,000 including Spiller Street and Clayton Street in Ayr.
  • Construction of Stage 2 of the Burdekin Rural Multi Tenant Service Centre (PCYC) with State Government funding $650,000.
  • Completion of the dual purpose cyclone shelter at the Ayr Showgrounds with total State Government funding of $2.7 million.
  • Provision for street lighting $515,000.
  • Sewerage projects of $900,000 including the continuation of the sewerage pipe relining, refurbish the Ayr Waste Water Treatment Plant Primary Clarifier, survey and design of the Ayr No 1 Sewerage Pump Station Rising Main duplication, and general refurbishment of the sewerage pump stations.
  • Water projects include general refurbishment of assets at $300,000.
  • Waste infrastructure projects include a new Kirknie Road Landfill Cell Liner $2 million, the installation of a second bin at Home Hill Transfer Station ($50,000) and boom gates at Ayr Transfer Station ($25,000).
  • Continue program of targeted improvement to playground equipment and park furniture $155,000.
  • Upgrade Columbarium including roof cover, concrete work and access path $70,000.
  • Refurbish Ayr Pool on the basis of grant funding being provided – $2 million
  • Refurbish Millaroo Pool – $50,000
  • Support for welfare and community.  Funding up to an estimated $688,000 will be distributed to various community organisations through grants, in-kind services and rebates.

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