Council to focus on economic development

The Burdekin Shire Council will shift its focus to economic development in an effort to grow the region.

Mayor Bill Lowis said Council would ramp up its focus on economic development to help draw investors and residents to the region.

“What we need is to bring more industry, more businesses and more people to our Shire to enable us to keep the standards we have now,” he said.

“Our region has had an almost static population for many years and that means the ratepayer base is also static,” he said.

“Our ratepayers are Council’s primary source of income and without any increase in population those same ratepayers have to cover our increasing costs.

“These costs are partly passed on to us from the Federal and State governments.

“The Burdekin needs to expand in order for ratepayers not to have high rate increases.

“At the moment approximately 40 per cent of our Council Budget is covering the cost of complying with various state and federal legislation – 60 per cent is given back to the community through the services we provide.

“I believe we deliver excellent services to our community, but it is getting harder and harder to cover the costs of those services.

“Council will really have to look at the number of services we provide and, in consultation with community, decide whether some services should be stopped.”

Cr Lowis said councils such as the Whitsundays and Townsville were fortunate as their population was increasing and could keep their rate rises to a minimum.

“Council will do its utmost to draw more investment and more residents to our region, so then we too will be able to keep rate rises to a bare minimum,” he said.

“The Burdekin Shire Council has, however, done very well to keep our debt down when compared to our neighbours.

“Our borrowings are approximately a tenth of Whitsunday’s debt and 48 times less than Townsville.

“We have been very responsible in managing our business and this means our ratepayers don’t have the worry of a massive debt which needs to be paid off.”

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