AUGUST 6, 2012

Mayor's Budget 2012-13 Speech

My fellow Councillors, Council staff, ladies and gentlemen.

It is with great pleasure that I present this Budget on behalf of Gladstone Regional Council.

It has been an extremely busy period for our new Council due to the fact our election was set back to April instead of March, so the State Election could take place.

The development of the 2012-2013 Budget has involved numerous workshops with Councillors and staff to discuss key aspects of this budget, set the strategy and prioritise major expenditure.

A key aspect of the development of the Budget has been on ensuring that short term decisions are in line with Council's Long Term Financial Plan, which has been given a Sound Rating by Queensland Treasury Corporation.

This means Council has been able to consider the long-term picture of service levels, rate increases, capital programs and borrowing levels when developing its budget.

The challenge for this Council remains to balance the pressures of growth, while operating in an environment that is producing a number of affordability issues.

We have faced several challenging years with successive flood events and the recovery process has been a difficult one in the current growth climate.

This financial year, $188 million of the $328 million Budget will be invested in the capital expenditure required to ensure our region keeps pace with the ongoing demands for soft and hard infrastructure, and to repair flood damaged roads.

With respect to flood repairs, a total of $45 million of funding has been provided by the Federal and State Government through the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements.

The overall impact of the 2012-13 Budget on residential and rural sectors, based on our annual sample of 50 properties across all localities, is 1.42 per cent, or $34 for the year.

It is no surprise that a significant impost on Council as of this financial year will be the Carbon Tax.

We anticipate the direct cost to Council of this tax will be approximately $21 million over the remaining 25 year life of the Benaraby Landfill.

The cost component of the Carbon Tax that relates to domestic waste provision totals approximately $8 per service per year.

Consequently, this has necessitated an increase of $3 per domestic waste service in 2012-13, bringing the total cost per service to $258.

In line with our Long Term Financial Plan, Council continues to transition towards achieving pricing parity for its utility services across the region. Sewerage services will increase by $1 per week for residents living in Gladstone, Boyne-Tannum and Calliope this year.

Comparative data by the AEC Group shows the total amount to be paid by residents in these areas is still under the Queensland average.

The charge at Agnes Water and Seventeen Seventy has not been increased.

Water access charges will increase by 10 per cent for those on the Lake Awoonga, Miriam Vale and Bororen water supply schemes.

The actual dollar amount of the increase is 56 cents per week for those on the Lake Awoonga Scheme; 71 cents per week in Miriam Vale and Bororen; and 25 cents per week in Agnes Water and Seventeen Seventy.

The water consumption charge remains unchanged in Miriam Vale and Bororen but will increase 11 cents per kilolitre in Agnes Water and Seventeen Seventy.

The water consumption charge from the Lake Awoonga scheme will decrease from $1.95 per kilolitre to $1.55 per kilolitre, which reflects a reduction in the overall cost of water to Council.

Now to general rates:

I am extremely pleased to announce general rate revenue from the residential sector will increase by just 1.6 per cent in 2012-13.

This is in line with CPI for the last 12 months, through to the end of March 2012, and is below the local government cost index, prepared by the LGAQ, of 3.6%.

To give this some context; 23 per cent of residential property owners, or 4651 properties, will receive a rate reduction.

A further 18.1 per cent, or 3637 properties, will receive an increase of less than the CPI of 1.6 per cent.

The balance will have varying increases with the maximum increase capped at 10 per cent.

This rate cap will not be applied to bulk residential property, though.

And from this year, Council will begin phasing in an increase in the major industrial rate contribution to ensure that the rate burden is distributed equitably across all sectors.

In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Councillors, CEO Stuart Randle and staff for the enormous effort they have all put into this process, which we began early this year.

I will now leave it to my fellow Councillors to release key features within their respective portfolios and commend to you Gladstone Regional Council's Budget 2012-13.


Mayor Gail Sellers


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