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Mayor Jenny Whitney said the 2014-15 financial year Whitsunday Regional Council Budget isfocused on paying down debt and restoring responsible financial management for the futurebenefit of the whole Whitsundays region.
Mayor Whitney said even with this focus we have managed to keep rate rises in line with CPI at4%, this is a rate increase similar to other local government’s Budgets this year including Brisbane, Gold Coast and Ipswich.
“Council has worked hard to put measures in place to reduce the levy down to $100 from $140,”Mayor Whitney said.
“We have also managed to keep the 5% early rate payment discount and the pensioner discount, which is an extraordinary effort given the circumstances.
“These measures have only been achieved in this Budget, by Council making the difficult decisions around rate rises, gaining emergent funding, introducing a levy and constraining expenditure, in the 2013-14 financial year.
“The 2014-15 Budget will turn around the operating position of $22.4 million deficit to be operating at a surplus of $1.1 million by the end of the financial year.
“The $73 million debt will also be reduced to $67 million by the end of 2014-15 and responsibleand sustainable cash flow management can be achieved to avoid insolvency.
“These measures can only be achieved by Council making the difficult decisions to sell surplusassets, further constrain expenditure, keeping a reduced levy and including a moderate 4% raterise in 2014-15 Budget.
“Despite Council’s priorities being focused on paying down debt a moderate capital work program of $16.2 million will be delivered as part of the 2014-15 Budget which will include road upgrades and water and sewerage infrastructure improvements across the Whitsunday region,” she said.
Mayor Whitney said the $100 levy allows Council to meet some of the required repayments toQueensland Treasury Corporation (QTC) for the $10 million emergent loan, with the additionalamount funded through general rates.
“If the levy were to be scrapped entirely the loan repayments would need to be raised from analternative source, which means further rate rises,” she said.
“It was viewed by Council that it is fairer to keep a $100 levy, for the whole region as opposed toadditional increases in rates which would result in hurting many people’s hip-pocket more.”Mayor Whitney said like all levels of government across Australia, the Whitsunday Regional
Council is currently operating in difficult financial circumstances which call for difficult decisions to be made.
“I’d like to commend all the Whitsunday Regional Council staff involved in the preparation of thisyear’s budget,” she said.
“Thanks must go to the staff who in extremely challenging circumstances have produced a budget restoring responsible financial management while also minimising the financial burden on the community.
“The past year has been particularly challenging for Whitsunday Regional Council, but with thedelivery of the 2014-15 Budget, I believe we have turned a corner and stabilised Council's financial position now so the entire region can reap the economic opportunities available for us in the future.
“I am very pleased Council has been able to work hard to put measures in place to pay down debt and restore responsible financial management, while minimising the impact on ratepayers,” she said.
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