YOUR GUIDE: What the ‘basic’ budget delivers for Gladstone
A 'BASIC' budget worth $278 million that focuses on roads, water, rubbish and parks and nothing too "pretty" was unveiled yesterday.
The Gladstone Regional Council declared its 2017-18 operational plan and budget will support a business-as-usual approach to the council, while slashing debt and maintaining services in the region.
It took less than 30 minutes for councillors to adopt this year's budget, with little discussion or debate.
Gladstone Region Mayor acknowledged the breezy meeting, highlighting the councillors had spent the past six months working on the budget.
He said it was a "back to basics" budget.
"That's what residents have been asking us to do, to just focus on what the council is meant to be focusing on," Cr Burnett said.
"It's back to basics, we're focusing on our road improvements, our water in terms of our reservoirs and trunk mains, transfer stations and landfill."
An average rate rise of 1.26% was announced, but 54% of Gladstone residents will have no change or a reduction in their next bill.
For 3% there will be a less than 2.1% rise, 17% will have a 5% rise and 21% will have a rates bill 6-10% higher than last year's.
Cr Burnett said the varied changes to rates was due to fluctuations in land valuation changes.
The changes also honour the rates cap of 10%, which the Gladstone Regional Council adopted in 2008.
"The average valuation has reduced by a bit over 20%, so if your valuation has gone down more than that then there's a chance you'll have the same rates or a reduction," Cr Burnett said.
"That's just the way the valuation system works, that's the system we have to levy rates."
Cr Burnett said the "pretty" projects for Gladstone this year would be largely funded by State and Federal Government grants.
The Federal Government has chipped in $20m for the long-awaited Integrated Philip St intergrated health services precinct project, and the council will add another $5.1m to it.
Cr Burnett said construction would start this financial year.
"This precinct will support local jobs and attract vital well being services to our community," Cr Burnett said.
In other budget big-ticket items, more than $90m will be spent on upgrading roads, including resurfacing and gravel works.
Cr Burnett said this was another example of why it was a "back to basics" budget.
"Providing a safe reliable road network is very important for council and our ratepayers," Cr Burnett said.
"Everyone will use a road at some point in time, meanwhile, with our arts gallery, our GECC and other community assets some people may never walk into them, so we make sure we get our roads right."
The council has budgeted $197.7m to maintain and make improvements to the 2689km road network, 700km water mains network and 678km sewer main network within the Gladstone region.
Cr Burnett said upgrades would ensure the services "cope with current and future demands".
This year's budget includes a $101m capital investment, that according to economic profiling will create 428 jobs.
Meanwhile garbage collection charges have increased $6 to $296 per year throughout the region.
Instead of being lumped with one bill of between $800-$1300 on water consumption and sewerage charges, the council has now split it into two six-monthly bills.
One half will be with your rates and the second half will be a separate bill delivered six months after the rates.
There is a $33 increase for sewerage services in Gladstone but other regions remain unchanged.
The water charge has gone up five cents per kilolitre for those getting water from Lake Awoonga, which council said is in line with water board charges.
Our Say: Page 15