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The 2017/18 Whitsunday Regional Council Budget is focused on Reshaping Our Community according to Mayor Andrew Willcox.
Carried unanimously at today’s special Budget meeting, Mayor Willcox said this budget had been a difficult one as council and community counts the cost of Tropical Cyclone Debbie which caused major destruction across our region.
“Circumstances have made it essential that this Budget will be a conservative one,” he said
“This is due to major infrastructure repair bills caused by Tropical Cyclone Debbie and uncertainty over the amount of assistance Council will receive by way of Federal and State funding.
“Despite this my council is passionate in maintaining a consistent level of service for our 35,500 residents and also implementing major catalyst infrastructure projects to not only create jobs as a priority but also help forge a bright future for Our Whitsunday region.
“Myself, councillors and the whole organisation have worked hard to keep average residential rates at zero and we are leveraging every opportunity to partner with Federal and State governments to deliver economic stimulus projects.”
Mayor Willcox said the community has had to tighten their belts so council had also tightened their belts too so as not to inflict further financial hardship on our residents.
“Council has set a zero percent increase in the total rate burden in the residential rating categories.
“Individual rates may increase or decrease due to changes in recent State Government valuations, however Council has not increased the total rate burden for residential categories.
“This means in 2017/18 Council will be collecting exactly the same total rates from residents as last year…no more, no less,” he said
“In an historic first for the Whitsunday Region, Kerbside Recycling will be rolled out in 2017/18.“Kerbside recycling was an election promise I made in 2016 and is a key component of Council’s Waste Management Strategy.”
Mayor Willcox said after public consultation last year, it was clear the community is looking for a more sustainable approach to waste management.
‘Kerbside recycling was the number one priority for over 75 per cent of participants in the consultation.
“As part of Council’s extensive education program each resident will receive information packs which will outline what they can and can’t recycle and also a collection timetable.”
The major capital projects in the budget according to Mayor Willcox were the $39.8 million Whitsunday Coast Airport runway and terminal upgrade and the $32 million Greening and Growing Bowen Project to be staged over the next three years.
“We have also assisted small businesses in the region with changes made to the Water Utility Charges will save many shop owners over $800.
“Single shops and professional offices and a portion of vacant commercial land have been moved out of Commercial Industrial 1 category and will now pay $546 per meter or improvement as opposed to $1402 previously,” he said.
Mayor Willcox said from an organisational perspective, improving efficiencies across the board will be a priority, continuing our work commenced last year.
“Every part of Council is working towards best practice in all of our operations, with some bold new targets set for ourselves to reduce operating costs.
“By reviewing every dollar spent at Council, the entire organisation will continue to make savings.
“Reshaping Our Community means another exciting and busy year ahead for council,” he said.
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