Find out about the 2019/20 Budget, including a rates summary and key major projects.
The net overall increase in rates and charges will be 3% for an urban residential property. This means the majority of residential ratepayers will have an increase of $92.88 a year, or $1.79 a week, after discount, which includes all rates and charges.
The increase in the general rate is 2.5%.
Community services & facilities
- Charlton Principal Depot - $55.58 million
- Highfields Library construction - $1.5 million
- Toowoomba CBD laneway creation at 174 Margaret Street - $1.1 million
- Clifton Museum construction - $720,000
- Community grants (region-wide) - $731,000
Parks & recreation
- Queens Park (Toowoomba) upgrades - $2.4 million
- Escarpment parks and Picnic Point regional park upgrades - $2.17 million
- Rehabilitation of existing park structures (various projects region-wide) - $272,000
- Lions Park (Hodgson Vale) upgrade - $200,000
- Wyreema Park upgrade - $200,000
- Play facilities renewal program (Fred Saal Park, Toowoomba & Centenary Park, Crows Nest) - $100,000
Planning & Development
- Planning Scheme review (region-wide)
- Local Government Infrastructure Plan - Review policy settings in the to cater for population and employment growth (region-wide)
- Architecture and heritage advice services – Continue free service across the region and release a new Toowoomba City heritage self-drive tours booklet
- Central Highfields - Complete structure plans, start new regional township place plans
- Encourage regional business stimulation - The Community Economic Development Grant program is aimed at supporting not-for-profit groups to deliver economic development projects in their communities. In addition to this, a new initiative will see State funding used to identify and address vocational skill requirements for three industries across the region.
- Toowoomba City Centre Master Plan and the Railway Parklands Priority Development Area, including the Creative CBD project and inner city living opportunities
Roads, footpaths, bikeways & drainage
- Road rehabilitation (region-wide) - $15.6 million
- Road reseals and resheeting (region-wide) - $14.4 million
- Road asphalt overlays (region-wide) - $4 million
- Tummerville Road (Scrubby Mountain) bridge renewal - $1 million
- Kleinton waste management facility - Upgrade landfill to a Tier 2 facility - $13.45 million
- Wastewater infrastructure (various projects region-wide) - $14.7 million
- Sewer and maintenance hole rehabilitation and replacement work (various projects region-wide) - $2.18 million.
- Water infrastructure (various projects region-wide) - $28.2 million
- Trunk and reticulation water main upgrades and replacements (various projects region-wide) - $2.46 million
- Water treatment and water bores planning and infrastructure (various projects region-wide) - $1.05 million
Cr Paul Antonio
Economic Development Committee Chair
2019-20 Budget delivers $548m program for services, facilities
My fellow Councillors, staff, ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to table Toowoomba Regional Council’s 2019-20 Budget.
Local governments have a central role as community builders and planners for current and successive generations.
I am proud to join my fellow Councillors to unveil our $548 million financial plan that will ensure we maintain and upgrade existing services and facilities while planning for a brighter future across one of Queensland’s most productive and desirable local areas.
Council is committed to implementing a responsible and calculated financial approach in its Budget planning and delivery.
I thank my colleagues and Council staff for their deliberations over the past nine months to develop a manageable capital program valued at $211 million along with an operating Budget component of $337 million.
A capital allocation of $82 million in this Budget emphasises Council’s strong focus on investing in infrastructure renewal programs across our extensive water and wastewater networks, our existing road network and other community assets to look after what we have built in the past.
Council has a legal and moral obligation to maintain its existing infrastructure and our ability to manage our $4.36 billion asset base across 13,000km² is a key performance indicator by which we are judged by the Queensland Audit Office and, more broadly, the Queensland Parliament.
In addition, $59 million is set aside for upgrade projects while $70 million has been allocated for new capital projects across the region.
We have a responsibility to plan for maintenance and upgrades to our existing infrastructure to guarantee the long-term viability of essential services to residents. We are mindful that every new asset comes with its own ongoing maintenance costs.
Council has given careful consideration to balancing outlays on renewal and upgrade programs and the demonstrated need for new facilities and infrastructure. As a result, there is a keen focus around the timely delivery of projects listed in the annual capital works program.
Council’s overall operational and capital expenditure parameters are based on our long-term (10 year) Financial Sustainability Plan (LTFSP), which is not only adopted by Council, but overseen by the Department of Local Government, the Queensland Treasury Corporation and Queensland Audit Office.
Rigorous Budget planning in line with our LTFSP has enabled Council to deliver a 2.5% increase in the general rate. Disciplined planning has allowed Council to deliver a consistent average general rate increase for the past five years.
This is a measured and responsible rate rise, with a net overall increase in rates and charges of 3% for an urban residential property.
This means the majority of residential ratepayers will have an increase of $92.88 a year, or $1.79 a week, after discount, which includes all rates and charges.
Today’s Budget is the result of considered planning employed by Council over the past 11 years to ensure we have the strong financial footing to enable future councils to confidently service our growing region, with the added financial strength to counter unforeseen events.
Going into the 2019-20 financial year, Council is budgeting for an operating deficit of $6.86 million due to a timing difference as a result of an accounting standard change.
The Queensland Treasury Corporation has maintained Council’s credit rating as Sound with a Neutral Outlook.
Few organisations deliver the range of services that local governments provide for their customers on a daily basis, from safe drinking water, sewerage and rubbish collection to roads, parks and a host of amenities such as libraries, galleries, community and cultural centres to a range of planning activities and services to safeguard public health and safety, among many others.
In the coming year, the major areas of capital expenditure will include:
- $60.1 million for roads, footpaths, bikeways and drainage projects
- $28.2 million for water projects
- $14.7 million for wastewater projects
- $17.8 million for waste services
- $6.8 million for parks and recreation projects
- $67.3 million for community services and facilities
- $15.7 million for business strategy and operations
Supplying safe drinking water to all residents has been at the forefront of Council’s planning. This is an essential and non-negotiable service.
Striking the balance between ensuring water security and affordability is a hallmark of this Budget.
Council has sought expert and independent third-party advice from the Queensland Treasury Corporation, in addition to discussions with Seqwater, to assist our planning.
Our focus on water security has seen Council budget for a continuing reliance on our water supply insurance policy, the Wivenhoe Pipeline.
Council earlier this year started operating the Wivenhoe pipeline which allows us to pump from Wivenhoe Dam to Cressbrook Dam to service users connected to this network.
Details of proposed 2019-20 pumping activities will depend on seasonal conditions and a range of factors which will be assessed as required.
While this agreement offers water supply security, Council is working with other levels of government to plan for alternative water sources to cater for longer term needs.
I have met with Mayors of surrounding local governments, including representatives in New South Wales, to discuss new water supply options. The drought cuts across state borders and we must look for co-operative agreement to deliver safe and secure water supplies.
The ongoing drought continues to affect the lives of many people on the land and their wider communities. Council is acutely mindful of the physical, mental and financial effects of the prolonged drought and we will review our current decision that defers rate notice payments for eligible producers.
Council’s sound financial base has contributed to the region’s expansion. The Toowoomba Region’s growth continues to be underpinned largely by nationally significant infrastructure projects, namely the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail project in the near future.
The rail line is no different to major projects such as the Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport and the soon-to-open Toowoomba Second Range Crossing, whereby Council must prepare itself in both physical and financial resources to respond in a manner that benefits the community, but in a financially sustainable way.
The Toowoomba Region is in the fortunate position of experiencing more than a decade of unprecedented growth, low unemployment in comparison with state figures and continued investment from private enterprise across many different sectors of our economy.
Recent independent data showed the Toowoomba Region recorded a 4.5% boost to its regional economy, which saw the Gross Regional Product (GRP) reach $10.81 billion for the year ended June 30, 2018. This represented a $465 million boost to the economy in the reporting period. This latest figure far exceeds national and state economic growth of 2.2% and a rise of 2.4% across regional Queensland.
It is pleasing to note that the figures show a continuing upward trend. Remarkably, our average growth over the past 10 years is around 3.6% per year, which also exceeds the state average of 2.1%.
Council will continue to work with its economic development partners to leverage off major infrastructure and private investment projects such as Asterion (medicinal cannabis plant), the Qantas pilot academy, the Pulse Date Centre, AAtlis (hybrid microgrid power project) and numerous large scale horticultural projects to maximise opportunities that come from those projects.
In addition to attracting new businesses, Council’s Regional Skills Investment Strategy will ensure we have the right skill mix to support our growing economy.
Funded by the State Government, the strategy will ensure businesses have access to appropriate training to enable staff to respond to changing workforce demands. The strategy will cover high-growth and high-employment potential industries in transport and logistics, advanced manufacturing, and heath care and community service.
The Toowoomba Region’s profile as a preferred education and training centre for domestic and international students will be advanced under the Study Toowoomba initiative.
Council will continue to support the Study Toowoomba cluster, in collaboration with local educators and government, to attract a greater share of the growing international education market, particularly across Asia.
We will continue to support small and medium enterprises by providing mentoring services and expert training to grow and adapt to new business challenges.
Council will seek funding to supplement our plans to establish the Railway Parklands to the north of the Heritage-listed Railway Goods Shed that was opened in April this year.
A public parkland will be an important recreation and meeting area as there is no doubt the site on the CBD’s north-west edge will continue to evolve as a popular focal point for residents and visitors, businesses and commercial outlets.
The surrounding Priority Development Area (PDA), which was approved by the state government in 2014, will be developed by the private sector over the next 20 to 30 years with the parkland being a catalyst for that investment.
Council’s Temporary Toowoomba CBD Development Incentives Policy is aimed at encouraging larger-scale quality new development and investment across the PDA, especially for the adaptive re-use of heritage listed buildings.
A commitment to business efficiency is a key factor in Council’s $55.58 million investment in the Principal Depot at Charlton. The new site replaces ageing facilities that will allow Council to more efficiently and safely serve our communities well into the future. The depot includes a range of water and energy saving features and will also be the new base for the Toowoomba State Emergency Services facility.
This diverse business investment proves that regional centres can flourish given the right circumstances.
In the past financial year, to May, Council has received more than $35 million in grants, subsidies and contributions from the state and federal governments. While Council is grateful for these contributions, it reinforces how dependent local government is on external funding.
We need to build on this partnership to find additional funding sources to help us build for our region’s future.
While there are many positives that underpin great confidence in our region, Council has framed this Budget at a time when funding from higher levels of government remains difficult to source.
I reiterate my call for appropriate and equitable funding allocations from the higher levels of government to support Council’s ongoing program of rolling out essential urban infrastructure.
Council and the Darling Downs and South West Queensland Council of Mayors have backed the Australian Local Government Association’s campaign calling for a fixed 1% share of Commonwealth tax revenue to aid long-term financial planning. Restoring this non-competitive funding stream would improve Council’s targeted Budget planning and offer greater operational efficiency.
Local government can not be left to shoulder the full cost of providing essential infrastructure to our growing communities in addition to meeting residents’ expectations across our other activities. We will continue to advocate for our fair share of funding to achieve our community goals and ambitions.
Council is determined to capitalise on its strong financial positon to ensure we remain a destination of choice for families, business investors and tourists in Australia and overseas.
We boast unlimited prospects, an enviable lifestyle with leading health and education resources across safe and welcoming communities.
I particularly wish to acknowledge and thank Finance and Business Strategy Committee chair Cr Mike Williams, portfolio leader Cr Megan O’Hara Sullivan, Council’s General Manager of Finance and Business Strategy Arun Pratap and Acting Finance and Business Strategy General Manager Ann-Marie Ryan for their concerted efforts during our Budget preparations and throughout the year. Your assistance is greatly appreciated along with the work of all staff.
I’m confident that our combined efforts will strengthen our rich traditions and ensure current and future generations take full advantage of our bold ambitions.
Cr Geoff McDonald
Cr Geoff McDonald
Environment & Community Committee chair
- New Charlton Principal Depot - $55.58 million.
- Construction of New Highfields Library - $1.5 million.
- Laneway creation at 174 Margaret Street - $1.1 million.
- Construction of new Clifton Museum - $720,000.
- Community Grants Program - $731,000 for community grants program. Round 1 will open in July.
This Budget will see the continuation of construction of the new Charlton Principal Depot. $55.58 million has been set aside for this new modern, intelligent and sustainable facility to meet the current and future needs of our staff and the communities we serve.
The new Principal Depot provides an opportunity to strategically locate services that, in most cases, were dispersed due to inadequate accommodation.
This Budget will provide $1.5 million toward construction of the new Highfields Library. The new facility will replace the existing temporary library which supports around 52,600 visitors each year.
The funding for 2019/20 will see the finalisation of the design of the building and external roadworks, all development and building approvals as well as the beginning of some roadwork construction. The Highfields Library Project will deliver a modern purpose-built library, customer service centre and community meeting facility in Highfields. Construction is planned to commence in 2020 and the new facility is expected to open in 2021.
Council will finalise the concept design on a new laneway at 174 Margaret Street in the heart of the Toowoomba CBD. The new laneway will provide an important connection from Margaret Street through to Jessie Street, Annand Street businesses and public car parks.
Council has bold ambitions to preserve the rich traditions of our area with a focus in this year’s Budget on rejuvenating our public facilities. This year Council will spend just over $6.78 million on renewing and upgrading community facilities.
Council is always looking at ways to better understand the cost of operating and maintaining our assets and how to better utilise our buildings across the region.
This year Council will continue to upgrade the Empire Theatre with $750,000 assigned to maintenance of this premium theatre facility. The work will involve an upgrade of external lighting, renewal of the dressing rooms, back-of-house toilets.
A further $350,000 has been allocated to replace air conditioning chiller sets at the Empire Theatre Precinct which have reached the end of their useful life.
In 2019/ 20 construction will begin to replace the former Clifton Museum building which has recently been demolished. $720,000 has been allocated for the construction of a new 500m² building to accommodate the museum collection and other community groups.
Our region’s halls are at the heart of our community and $260,000 has been allocated for upgrades to disability access and toilet facilities at Groom Park Hall and Westbrook Hall.
Council respects the importance to the RSL and the wider community of the Heritage-listed Soldiers’ Memorial Hall in Toowoomba. The building requires upgrading to meet modern standards and provide access for people with disabilities. Council has been successful in obtaining a $2 million grant from the Federal government through Building Better Regions for this project. $500,000 will be allocated in 2019/20 for Stage one refurbishments that will include finalising the design as well as Heritage and Building approvals for the site.
Council supported a whole of community approach to safety by linking with Safer Toowoomba Regional Partnerships (STRP) and the University of Southern Queensland to conduct a region-wide health and safety survey which will assist STRP to formulate a community safety action plan.
Council currently operates CCTV in a number of its public access buildings. The majority of these systems are more than ten years old. This Budget includes $165,000 for the renewal of CCTV Security technology at Goombungee, Oakey, Millmerran, Clifton and Pittsworth.
This project will renew these systems to the current standard and transition them to Councils new CCTV platform for ease of management.
Council supports nine SES groups within the Toowoomba Regional Unit. The Crows Nest SES facility requires updating as its condition limits the group in its support of emergency operations in the local area. This Budget provides $50,000 for an upgrade to the toilet and shower amenities, a kitchen area and additional floor space for the facility.
Tourism is growing in our region with more than 2.26 million visitors annually (for the Southern Queensland Country area) and we are always looking for new ways to attract people to our region and encourage overnight stays.
Preparations are well underway for our award winning Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers which celebrates its 70th year in 2019 from September 20th to 29th. The multi-award winning floral festival captured yet another accolade this year winning Tourism Australia’s Gold Award for the best major festival or event for the third year in a row.
The economic importance of this event remains the focus with 77 events and activations set to celebrate our community and culture across the 10 day program. Of note, 50 events and tours are being delivered by community groups and local businesses, this high number of inclusions is testament to the positive impacts the event has on the region.
Council has an ongoing commitment to developing our community and this Budget continues to support our regional Community Development services. The Community Grants program will have $731,000 made available across two rounds of funding for the 7 categories of grants. Round one of the community grants will open in July and we encourage community groups to apply.
Our region is made up of a rich tapestry of cultural diversity. Last year Council ran 190 programs that reached out to more than 26,000 (26,786) people through our Multicultural Services activities. This included major events such as Harmony Day and the Toowoomba Languages and Cultures Festival that recognise the diversity of our region. Council will continue to provide an officer to support our multi-cultural community.
In 2019/20 the newly established Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Advisory Committee will enjoy its first full year of operation. The role of this committee is to provide advice to Council on the issues affecting our community.
The formation of this committee is a significant step in bridging the gap between Council with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and I look forward to seeing the positive outcomes that will come from this new group.
Over 2019-20, Toowoomba Regional Council will be developing and delivering initial implementation of a new Youth Strategy (2019-2021) to inform Council’s approach to engaging with and supporting young people across the region.
The strategy is underpinned by a major study Council conducted over 2018-2019 in consultation with young people, their families, service providers and other community stakeholders.
The inaugural Toowoomba Regional Council Youth Strategy 2019-2021 is a clear statement about Council’s bold ambitions for our young people, who are our most precious resource.
Council’s Youth Services team is always finding ways to get youth involved in the community and giving opportunities to our young people. Last year Council supported 146 initiatives for youth with more than 17,100 young people participating at events.
We are grateful to the community for the support that Council receives from its many volunteers. Our community has a strong culture of volunteering with 608 volunteers that assist Council throughout the year.
This will be another big year for the area of Council that covers the people, property and the popularity of our region.
Cr Joe Ramia
Cr Joe Ramia
Environment & Community portfolio leader
- Queens Park upgrades- $2.4 million
- Escarpment Parks and Picnic Point Regional Park upgrades - $2.17 million
- Parks and Recreation structures renewal program- Rehabilitation of existing parks structures - $272,000
- Lions Park – Hodgson Vale upgrade - $200,000
- Wyreema Park upgrade - $200,000
- Centenary Park (Crows Nest) playground shade replacement - $40,000
In 2019-20 Toowoomba Region continues to improve the areas in which we gather as a community including our parks, museums, art galleries and libraries.
The Toowoomba Region is well known for the beauty of our parks and gardens and this year Council has bold ambitions to refresh our green spaces.
Stage 6 of the Queens Park upgrade will commence in the new financial year. The upgrade of this regional recreation park will include the construction of a Botanic Gardens Interpretive Shelter, further improvements to the Margaret Street Playground and an upgrade to the Botanic Gardens amenities block. This stage of the project will be completed at a cost of $2.4 million.
The beauty of the Toowoomba Range is a natural advantage to our Region. With the assistance of the Queensland Government through the Building our Regions program, Council has allocated $2.17 million to the Escarpment Park Upgrade project and Picnic Point Regional Park.
Upgrades to our Toowoomba escarpment parks aims to unlock the potential of nature-based, outdoor recreation facilities and increase sports tourism opportunities. The Escarpment Upgrade will consist of multiple projects that will occur across a three year design and construction timeframe.
The Parks and Recreation Structures Renewal program has $272,000 allocated in 2019/20 with an emphasis on elevated stairs, lookouts, ramps and platforms, temporary grandstand tiered seating and arbours. The program this year will focus on upgrades at Gold Park including replacement of the existing timber boardwalk on the Lemway Avenue Boardwalk and the Waterbird Habitat birdwatching hideout.
The Play Facilities Renewal Program provides for the replacement, relocation and renewal or removal of existing park equipment including rubber softfall and shade structure. This year $100,000 has been allocated for a playground replacement at Fred Saal Park, Toowoomba and playground shade renewal at Centenary Park, Crows Nest.
Lions Park at Hodgson Vale will be upgraded at a cost of $200,000. The improvements will include re-alignment of pathways, a new barbecue and upgraded landscaping including a separate picnic area on the western side of the Hodgson Creek.
Community consultation has already started on planned upgrades to Wyreema Park. The $200,000 upgrade will be funded by development contributions that will be re-invested into the park.
Depending on outcomes of community consultation, Council is considering the replacement of the existing playground and to renew picnic and BBQ facilities as well as additional landscaping.
Each year Council prioritises park upgrades in growing areas guided by the 2016 Open Space Strategy. Funds are used to prepare detailed designs for the continued delivery of future planned upgrades. In this year’s Budget, Council has allocated funds for the continued upgrade of the following parks:
- Oakey Corridor Linear Park upgrades (Cory St Park, Rotary Park, Gordon Park, Cherry St, Arthur Shooter) - $104,000
- McMahon Park, Gowrie Junction - $75,000
- Clifton District Parks upgrades (Elsie Jones, Clifton Rec Reserve, Pioneer Park and Bethal Green) - $72,000
- Gold Park, South Toowoomba - $21,000
- Pittsworth District Park upgrades (Bridgman Oval, Lions, Apex, and Rotoract parks) - $20,000
- Kingsthorpe Linear Corridor Park (Rosalie Walk and Settlers Park) - $19,000
Under the Open Space Strategy, $100,000 has also been allocated to an upgrade of East Creek Parklands. The funds will be used to create a masterplan of a linear park that will join East Creek Parklands to Lake Annand Park and Emmerson Park.
This year’s Budget will also include $80,000 for master planning and detailed design of upgrades to Thiess Park in Darling Heights.
Our Council is committed to supporting residents in leading active and healthy lifestyles. Over 2019/20 Toowoomba Regional Council will continue the development of a new Sport, Active Recreation and Healthy Living Plan (2019-26) to identify and deliver policies, places and programs to support sport, active recreation and healthy living across the Toowoomba Region.
Following comprehensive community consultation in early 2019, the initial Draft will open for feedback in late July with the final version due to be released in late 2019.
In 2019/20 Council in partnership with the Lockyer Valley Regional Council, will develop the ‘Toowoomba and Lockyer Valley Escarpment Mountain Bike Masterplan 2019-26’ to support our shared vision for the area becoming a premier mountain biking destination.
The plan will focus on:
- identifying the next phase of developments for the mountain bike trail network for beginners and advanced users,
- exploring opportunities to capitalise on the growing adventure tourism market, support policy development, and
- delivering iconic trail experiences along the escarpment area.
The master planning process will commence in July 2019 and will include community consultation as the plan progresses. The final version of the masterplan will be released towards the end of 2019.
Our regional libraries and art galleries remain major attractions for residents and visitors.
Council is always seeking to maintain and develop a permanent collection of high quality, original artworks for the cultural enrichment of the Region. In this year’s Budget, the Council has allocated $35,000 for art collection acquisitions.
In 2018-19 the art galleries in the Toowoomba Region presented 67 exhibitions to over 36,000 gallery visitors. These exhibitions were supported by 158 public programs attended by over 7,000 participants.
Toowoomba Regional Library Service is always looking for ways to improve service to our customers. Radio Frequency Identification Devices (RFID) is the technology used in Libraries to further enhance the customer experience and Toowoomba Regional Libraries will spend $66,000 on RFID upgrades in this Budget.
These upgrades will include self-check-out kiosks, smart return bins and smart return shelving which will increase the circulation of library items. With millions of loans and returns happening each year, quicker circulation of material means less downtime for customers ensuring quicker access to thousands of books, CD’s and DVD’s available to borrow at our 11 Library Branches.
There have been over 1 million loans from our libraries this year and more than 244,000 virtual visitors accessing library resources; an increase of 30% from the previous year. Library staff organised and supervised more than 1,308 programs and events which attracted 36,569 attendees.
A similar round of activities, including major days at Toowoomba City Library, is planned for the coming year including Winter Wonderland from June 21 to July 14, 2019, and Halloween activities for later in the year.
Council’s conservation and pest management activities this year will continue to help both Council and landowners gain ground in the battle against invasive weed species and pests that can be damaging to bushland and productive agricultural areas.
Officers will continue to deliver baiting programs, firebreak maintenance and prescribed burning programs, attend regional shows and industry events to help increase awareness and ways in which everyone can play a part in controlling invasive pests and weeds.
The Wild Dog Check Fence is a strategically important barrier for wild dog control in Southern Queensland. The check fences provide important protection to our livestock industries.
Council has an ongoing program of maintenance and upgrades to the Wild Dog Check Fence with an allocation of $100,000 for projects throughout the Region.
Council has an ongoing program of maintenance and upgrades to Fire Management Access trails with an allocation this year of $150,000 throughout the region. The program includes upgrades to fire breaks in Jubilee Park and renewal of existing fire breaks in the Cranley area.
Cr Mike Williams
Cr Mike Williams
Finance & Business Strategy Committee chair
- $548 million Budget.
- 2.5% increase to the general rate (average urban residential property).
- Net overall increase of rates and charges 3% (average urban residential property).
- Capital (infrastructure) program of $211 million.
- Operating deficit of $6.86 million.
- Operational Budget of $337 million.
- New capital projects is $70 million.
- $82 million allocated to infrastructure renewal programs and $59 million allocated to upgrade programs.
Council remains committed to sensible financial management and this Budget provides the balance between the impact on ratepayers and the future sustainability of our region.
This Budget has again challenged the Council to continue improving services in our region with decreasing reliance on revenue from external grants.
Council has met the challenge of continuing to improve the level of service to residents through responsible financial management. This Budget will see an increase to the General Rate of 2.5% with a net increase in rates and charges of 3% (for a city urban residential property).
This increase is in line with general rate increases for the previous 3 years and the decreasing Consumer Price Index. The benefit of Council’s rigorous financial planning is that it removes the volatility of rates and charges that may be experienced by other local authorities across the state.
My fellow Councillors and I, and our staff, carefully consider the Budget for many months and are aware of the immense responsibility to balance the impact on ratepayers today, with the decisions that affect the future sustainability of our region.
This Budget reflects the priorities articulated in the Council’s Corporate Plan (2019-2024) and the Operational Plan (2019/20 financial year).
The new five year Corporate Plan will come into effect on 1st July 2019 and will outline the region’s direction and priorities through to 2024. The Corporate Plan is the strategic direction that considers our Rich Traditions and directs us towards our Bold Ambitions. The Corporate Plan is our guiding document for delivering services to the community, with the Operational Plan detailing the actual activities and progress towards our goals during 2019/20.
The 2019/20 Budget places a strong emphasis on the renewal of Council assets with $82 million allocated to the infrastructure renewal programs and $58.4 million allocated to upgrade programs.
The Strategic Asset Management function of Council plays an important role in prioritising our assets and determining options for maintaining the Council’s critical infrastructure, building and property portfolio. Council manages an asset base of more than $4.36 billion and, through better understanding; we can determine the best value for money options for maintaining the community’s property, plant and equipment.
Council’s ongoing strategic planning is an important extension of our current work to ensure we continue to provide a range of value-for-money services to enhance our enviable lifestyle well into the future.
The Queensland Treasury Corporation has again maintained Council’s credit rating as sound with a neutral outcome and this reflects our current financial strength and importantly, our effectiveness and commitment to long-term financial planning.
Like every local government in Australia, TRC is dealing with a change in revenue recognition as a result of changes to Australian Accounting Standards.
Some revenue items, for example pre-paid rates will be received before 30 June and will be recognised in the 2018/19 year. This revenue will not be recognised in 2019/20 although the corresponding expenditure will be recognised resulting in a Budget deficit.
In my mind, a Budget deficit is not an example of prudent financial management. I can assure ratepayers that this issue is out of the hands of Council and we will have the cash to cover our anticipated expenses as we have done since Toowoomba Regional Council was formed.
Council has dealt with this accounting change in a transparent and responsible manner.
Water security has been at the forefront of policy discussion as our Region continues to experience dry conditions. Following advice from the Queensland Treasury Corporation, Council introduced a split pricing approach to maintain a financially sustainable water network.
Council’s water business consists of over $1.4 billion in infrastructure, which requires a significant renewal or replacement investment and this was the primary contributor to the change in water pricing.
In the 2018/19 Budget, Council announced an increase in water rates to residential properties of 4.1% and Non-residential properties of 6%. This split pricing was the first of a 5 year price path for water.
2019/20 is the second year of the path to sustainability, meaning that we will again see an increase in water rates of residential properties of 4.1% and Non-residential properties of 6%.
Council’s Information Communications and Technology (ICT) group will continue to build on the online offerings to assist our customers. This year, at a cost of $50,000, ICT will be also involved with providing the services, equipment and fitting for the connection of the new Principal Depot to Council’s fibre network.
In this Budget, your Council has Bold Ambitions to improve services in a financially responsible way.
Cr Megan O'Hara Sullivan
Cr Megan O'Hara Sullivan
Finance & Business Strategy portfolio leader
- More frequent community surveys
- Council website – 250,000 page views per month on average
- Council’s Facebook – 25,500 followers
- Community Engagement Policy
- Accredited with Office of Federal Safety Commissioner
The year ahead will see the Council continuing to refine business practices in line with the feedback from the 2017 Community Survey.
We continue to look at how we best serve our residents and the Community Survey results set a clear direction for our staff to demonstrate a ‘Community First’ approach in all our operations and interactions.
The Community Survey, first conducted in 2008 and then again in 2017, will now be conducted every 2 years to ensure the Council is designing and delivering services that meet the expectations of our community. In 2019/20 we will once again be seeking feedback from our community regarding their satisfaction with Council services.
As in previous years, the survey is completely anonymous and will invite feedback from a wide cross-section of our community in terms of demographics and geographical location, as well as providing all community members with the opportunity to participate online and via postal feedback forms.
In 2019/20 the Stakeholder Engagement and Communications team will commence the second year of three year strategy that will ensure Council’s communication and engagement processes are contemporary, innovative, effective and consistent. This Strategy demonstrates the Council’s commitment to continuous improvement and open and transparent communication and engagement.
More than ever Council’s website is the front door for many of our customers and in 2019/20 this important tool will be updated. On average, each month, the Council’s main website has nearly 250,000 page views. Council’s Social Media presence continues to grow with our Facebook page alone, home to more than 25,500 followers.
The media team maintain our established local media channels in an effort to lift the profile of the Toowoomba Region both state-wide, and nationally. In order to reach a broader audience, the team are also using a greater variety of media platforms, including Social Media, to keep residents updated about Council activities. In 2019/20, the team is reviewing our internal communications practices to ensure an informed workplace and that Council’s messaging is consistent.
The Stakeholder Engagement group is constantly improving processes to keep residents informed about projects that may affect them. Council adopted an updated community engagement policy and a set of accompanying guidelines and a toolkit was established to guide consultation practices. The policy is consistent with our Council’s Project Management Framework and reflects the best-practice ‘International Association of Public Participation’ (IAP2) standards as part of Council’s commitment to genuine stakeholder engagement in project and service delivery.
Council has Bold Ambitions to build on our Rich Traditions of customer service.
Our People and Organisational Development Branch care for the needs of our staff. The branch seeks to build the capacity of our existing staff, together with employing apprentices, cadets and trainees and developing programs to attract graduates.
Toowoomba Region is one of the largest local employers of apprentices, trainees and graduates and in 2019/20 Council will employ over 90 local people in these highly sought after categories. Council has Bold Ambitions of being an employer of choice.
Toowoomba Regional Council has a strong focus on a culture of safety. Council has in the past year been named as a finalist in both the Queensland Training Awards and the Queensland Safety Awards. Council is also only the fourth Local Government in Australia to gain Office of Federal Safety Commissioner accreditation.
Deputy Mayor Carol Taylor
Cr Carol Taylor
Deputy Mayor - Infrastructure Committee Chair
- $2.9 million widening of the Bowenville–Moola Road as part of the Federal Government’s Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program.
- $1.48 million on the Federal Government’s Blackspot Programme.
- $2.7 million widening the Jondaryan Saint Ruth Road through State Government Transport Infrastructure Development Scheme.
- $3.9 million on the Wyreema Cambooya Road Upgrade project.
- $2.7 million on community minor roads upgrade program.
From the moment you leave your house or farm on your journey to school, work or any other destination, travelling a safe road and transport network is critical to our socio/economic and community wellbeing.
With this in mind, Toowoomba Regional Council will continue to reinvest in our existing infrastructure to guarantee the long-term viability of providing essential infrastructure to all of our residents.
To support this, we continue to be focused on the ongoing improvements and upgrades to our roads and drainage infrastructure.
We recently adopted a new Regional Road Safety Strategy and will continue to identify ways to create a safer environment for all road users. The updated road safety strategy will build on our previous plan, as our region and demand on our road network continues to grow. The strategy outlines our commitment, in alignment with the Federal and State Governments, to a vision of zero road deaths and serious injuries within our region.
Council has been successful in securing Australian Government Black Spot funding to target safety improvements at Umbiram Road in Wyreema ($676,000) and a new roundabout at the intersection of Perth and Cohoe Street ($800,000).
Other key projects this year includes Bowenville–Moola Road widening as part of the Federal Government’s Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program. $2.9 million has been allocated to widen approximately 3.3km of the road which is currently single-lane.
We will also undertake the next stages of the Wyreema Cambooya Road Upgrade project with work continuing on the upgrade of the unsealed road to a two-lane seal standard. Work is expected to be completed by 2021.
This year Council has committed $2.7 million to a Community Minor Roads Upgrade Program with minor road upgrades in our rural areas and minor street upgrades including roads, kerb and channel and footpaths in our regional towns and villages.
We’re also investing more than $1.3 million in constructing new footpaths and replacing old footpaths throughout our regional area.
Flood mitigation remains at the forefront of our minds and more than $700,000 will be spent in Kingsthorpe addressing stormwater drainage issues.
This year we’re also looking forward to the full opening of the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing which will no doubt improve traffic congestion in the city. We have been very proactive in ensuring Griffiths, Mort and Boundary Streets were all completed in readiness of this opening.
With this Budget we’re ensuring that we’re not only able to meet the current needs of our community but are well-positioned to meet the future needs of the region.
Cr James O'Shea
Cr James O'Shea
Infrastructure Committee portfolio leader
- $15.6 million on the regional rehabilitation program.
- $14.4 million on the regional reseal and resheet program.
- $4 million on the regional asphalt overlay program.
- $1 million on the Tummerville Road Bridge renewal.
Our standard of living remains a key attraction for residents and visitors alike which is why Toowoomba Regional Council is committed to providing the entire region with essential services, facilities and an unparalleled lifestyle.
To preserve this way of life we have committed $15.6 million towards our annual Regional Rehabilitation Program. Out of this, more than $12 million will be spent in our regional areas to renew roads that are in poor condition and improve safety.
We will also continue to invest across the region in our Reseal Program ($8 million), Asphalt overlay program ($4 million) and Gravel Resheet Program ($6.4 million) to improve the condition of our roads across the region.
In total more than $34 million is being spent on these programs, which is an increase of $12 million from last year. We understand the need to reinvest in renewing our existing infrastructure and this reaffirms our ongoing commitment towards maintaining current assets throughout the region.
Work will begin this financial year on the Tummaville Road Bridge Renewal after the bridge was damaged during a traffic accident in 2018. Council will replace the existing single-lane timber bridge with a new multi-span two-lane concrete bridge. $1 million has been allocated to the project this year with a further $1.9 million in 20/21. The Australian Government will contribute $700,000 towards the project as part of its Bridges Renewal Program.
Further upgrades and enhancements of our parking public and active transport networks will once again be a focus. Council is eager to see local businesses thrive and continues to investigate options on how parking can be further improved across the region, including the Toowoomba CBD.
As part of the Toowoomba CBD Car Parking Strategy review, we are considering where additional car parking may be needed, as well as considering a number of options to optimise and better manage existing parking within the CBD.
In this Budget we’re ensuring our region remains an attractive place to live, while laying down the foundations for a brighter future.
Cr Chris Tait
Cr Chris Tait
Planning & Development Committee chair
- Finalise Planning Scheme review: Incorporate public feedback on the Toowoomba Regional Planning Scheme review.
- Informed planning: Council will review policy settings in the Local Government Infrastructure Plan (LGIP) to cater for population, employment growth.
- Free architecture and heritage advice services – continue service provision across the region and release a new Toowoomba city heritage self-drive tours booklet.
Council will finalise the reviews of the Toowoomba Regional Planning Scheme and the Local Government Infrastructure Plan (LGIP) that underpin Council’s position on land use, settlement patterns and infrastructure-related policies.
It will ensure Council has clear policy settings to guide decisions for a diverse and growing region.
After extensive public consultation and discussion with interested parties earlier this year, Council will complete its review of the Toowoomba Regional Planning Scheme, which is Council’s land use and development plan for the region, by December 2019.
Feedback received during the review will be collated in a final report identifying issues that need to be addressed, along with a plan to deal with issues that were raised.
Council will start implementing review outcomes in early 2020. Feedback has confirmed that the existing planning scheme is sound, however there are opportunities for improvement, most notably greater clarity of land use policy and the plan for managing residential and industrial growth.
Feedback has also indicated the potential for adopting a different approach for managing development in and around regional towns compared with Toowoomba city.
The LGIP’s key function is to integrate and plan for the projected population and jobs growth across the region to ensure efficient rollout of urban infrastructure.
It is essential that urban infrastructure required to service growth fronts is provided in an efficient and sequential manner.
The LGIP project is engaging with the community and development industry about planning for population growth. This will occur in conjunction with important work on the Regional Growth Plan.
This phase of the LGIP program will deliver updated planning assumptions and development projections that will be used to inform an affordable and efficient program to deliver essential urban infrastructure to service population growth and employment growth to 2051.
Planning associated with the LGIP review will ensure Council has sufficient resources to roll out essential urban infrastructure to meet private sector investment demands.
In conjunction with the reviews of the planning scheme and the LGIP, Council will start the Toowoomba Growth Plan which will articulate the long-term future growth of the region. Together, these plans will outline Council’s vision for growth, ensuring the liveability and prosperity of the region. This will pave the way for a strong economy and growing community and ensure that Council delivers the essential infrastructure to support this growth.
Work to streamline Development Approval processes and procedures will ensure Council is responding to legislative time constraints and investors’ requirements.
Council is implementing electronic lodgement of a range of development application types (such as material change of use and reconfiguring a lot) to speed up the application lodgement process. The move to digital business processes not only aids efficiency, but also allows applicants to track all of their applications through the one portal.
The Development Services branch is also undertaking one-on-one engagement with our development industry members to seek feedback on opportunities to improve the service provided by the branch. This feedback will be invaluable to ascertaining business improvement activities to be implemented in the coming financial year.
Council is committed to safeguarding the community and making the region stronger and more resilient in the face of flooding events.
Thanks to previous widespread community input, Council has compiled some of the most comprehensive flood studies in the nation via the award-winning Flood Risk Assessment, Planning Evaluation and Scheme Amendment project.
Council will finalise the planning scheme amendment to facilitate flood studies and hazard studies in line with statutory requirements.
Council is continuing a number of specialist advisory services that aim to promote excellence in architecture and urban design that facilitate a range of lifestyle benefits.
Owners of residential, commercial and rural buildings can access free architecture, heritage, landscaping and urban design advice that is provided by the Regional Architecture and Heritage branch. This advice is aimed at assisting the owners and their design consultants in achieving good outcomes.
A full-time heritage architect is available to offer advice on renovations, conservation or any heritage issues for residents and business owners from the pre-concept stage and through the life of the project. On-site inspections can be arranged to discuss specific project details.
As part of the Planning Scheme review, a raft of guidelines and design examples is being developed for consideration and inclusion in the Planning Scheme. Residents planning renovations or alterations to their character and heritage buildings will be able to refer to these supplementary design guidelines. These resources also will assist designs for new constructions in character neighbourhoods or heritage areas.
Residents’ pride in their projects has seen demand for the heritage advisory service grow from two to five days a week in the past three years. Early consultation enables residents to make more informed responses to Planning Scheme requirements, allowing applications to be processed more easily.
The heritage advisory service has performed more than 900 consultations this financial year with an additional 400 architectural and landscape consultations.
The branch facilitates the regional Heritage Advisory Committee (HAC), which offers advice and information about heritage issues to Council.
The HAC is compiling a Toowoomba Heritage self-drive tours booklet that lists around 100 places of interest around Toowoomba city.
The booklet, which is planned for release early in 2020, categorises the city into four distinct precincts including, built form areas plus places or buildings with particular Indigenous, cultural or environmental significance.
It contains a brief description of each site with an indicative picture, plus a link to more detailed information on Council’s website. The new brochure will complement Council’s walking trail series of brochures.
Cr Anne Glasheen
Cr Anne Glasheen
Planning & Development portfolio leader
- Setting the planning framework: Complete structure plans for Central Highfields. Start new regional township place plans to coordinate investment and community place-making.
- Encourage regional business stimulation - The Community Economic Development Grant program is aimed at supporting not-for-profit groups to deliver economic development projects in their communities. In addition to this, a new initiative will see State funding used to identify and address vocational skill requirements for three industries across the region.
- Guide future planning and investment to progress the implementation of the Toowoomba City Centre Master Plan and the Railway Parklands Priority Development Area, including the Creative CBD project and inner city living opportunities.
Council will continue to plan for, and invest in, a range of policies and studies that will ensure the region remains an attractive destination in which to live and work, in addition to promoting numerous investment opportunities.
The Strategic Planning and Economic Development branch will continue to set the framework for planning our region’s growth.
The Central Highfields Structure Plan and urban design guidelines will be completed by mid-2020. These plans will detail how Council’s land at Central Highfields will be developed over time to deliver the community’s vision of a vibrant central heart with a mix of uses including public space, commercial, retail and residential areas.
Ongoing work associated with the Toowoomba City Centre Master Plan (TCCMP) will see findings from the 2018 Place Evaluation used in targeted discussions with CBD businesses and the broader community to identify future development priorities.
Council adopted the TCCMP in 2010 to provide a vision for the city centre to 2031 and beyond and so far has invested around $100 million on civic projects to rejuvenate the city centre supported by significant private investment.
Council is planning for well into the future to ensure we have the basic infrastructure to service future development and support the expansion of inner city living.
We will continue to identify potential development sites and precincts for inner city living opportunities.
Council is continuing the Temporary Incentives Policy to target substantial investment and stimulate CBD projects aligned with the TCCMP and Railway Parklands Priority Development Area (PDA).
Outside the city, regional planning will take a place-based approach identifying needs of particular townships from the community growth action plans and developing a coordinated approach to investment and community place-making.
The Regional Township Place Plans project will provide visual plans and information that will inform and shape future decisions by Council, the community and developers.
As part of the planning scheme review, Council will continue planning that takes into account the expansion of our inter-regional transport network, especially around requirements for logistics, related storage facilities and associated industries.
Major infrastructure projects, such as the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing (which is close to opening), the Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport, and the proposed Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail, have increased demand for suitable land for enterprise activity and employment growth.
Council’s push for innovation and increased productivity will be aided by the new Creative CBD project, run in conjunction with Renew Australia, which seeks to fill vacant Toowoomba CBD shopfronts with new or growing creative enterprises.
The project aims to reduce commercial vacancies, support diverse and small business and increase activity on CBD streets to create a more vibrant inner city.
Regional business stimulation is the key goal behind Council’s Community Economic Development Grant program, in line with objectives outlined in the Toowoomba Region Economic Development Strategy and Community Growth Action Plans.
Council is keen to support our Chambers of Commerce, Progress Associations and other not-for-profit groups who deliver real economic benefits to their communities.
For this reason, an annual pool of $50,000 will be available, with grants capped at $5000 for each application.
This funding is aimed at building the capacity of regional groups to enable them to attract or boost employment in their towns and districts.
Our green spaces and natural resources are among our most precious assets. We need to ensure future growth protects the region’s environment and our prevailing lifestyles.
Council will implement the Green Infrastructure Strategy by taking forward actions in the strategy in collaboration with stakeholders, and by developing an environmental policy to recognise the region’s biodiversity that will inform the planning scheme review.
Cr Nancy Sommerfield
Cr Nancy Sommerfield
Water & Waste Committee chair
- $28.2 million for water infrastructure capital projects.
- $14.7 million for the provision of wastewater infrastructure capital projects.
- $13.45 million on the construction phase of upgrading the Kleinton Landfill into a Tier 2 Waste Management Facility.
Council is committed to providing the entire region with essential services, facilities and quality of lifestyle. To do this it’s essential we balance the needs of providing new and replacement of assets with the needs of ongoing maintenance costs for existing assets.
In this Budget Council is allocating $28.2 million for water infrastructure projects and $14.7 million to the provision of wastewater infrastructure projects across the region.
Council has placed a major focus on renewing water infrastructure throughout the region. This includes significant investment in the Perseverance Raw Water Main Renewal ($8 million), Perseverance Pump Station upgrade ($7.2 million), renewal of the Cressbrook Pump Station switchboards ($1.59 million) and renewal of pipework at Cooby Dam Booster Pump Station ($0.34 million).
Wastewater infrastructure improvements will be undertaken at the Wetalla Water Reclamation Facility which includes renewal and upgrade of the Preliminary Treatment Area ($3.45 million), and duplication of the inlet trunk sewer ($3.11 million), as well as trunk sewer works in Toowoomba and Cambooya, along with sewage pumping station upgrades in Cambooya ($.73 million) and Oakey ($0.57 million).
The long-term water security of the region is at the forefront of our minds and we will continue working with both the State and Federal Governments and all other interested parties, including the private sector and irrigators across the region to ensure our long-term water security planning gets legs.
In 2019/20 we will spend $1.2 million on water security works covering $0.75 million for water meter replacements and smart metering initiatives, $0.25 million for water network monitoring installations and $0.2 million towards Cooby Dam Great Artesian Bores returning to service.
We will also be putting $0.3 million into ongoing investigations, planning and works for Clifton and southern areas water supply improvements, including trial options such as new generation water softeners.
With a keen focus on caring for the environment through our Waste Infrastructure Plan, we will begin the construction phase of upgrading the Kleinton Landfill ($13.45 million) into a Tier 2 Waste Management Facility. The existing site in Kleinton is at capacity and a new facility is required.
In addition to this site, Council is in the process of identifying areas in Pittsworth and in Toowoomba’s southern growth corridor for future waste facilities to ensure we are well-positioned to meet the needs of our growing region.
Council’s financial plan ensures we will continue to maintain services and upgrade existing facilities while planning for today’s needs and those of future generations.
Cr Bill Cahill
Cr Bill Cahill
Water & Waste Committee portfolio leader
- $2.46 million to upgrade and replace trunk and reticulation water mains across the region.
- $1.05 million for water treatment and water bores planning and infrastructure works.
- $2.18 million for region-wide sewer and maintenance hole rehabilitation and replacement work programs.
At Toowoomba Regional Council we understand the region continues to grow in size and as such, it’s vital that we not only cater for this growth but also upgrade existing infrastructure to cater for the increase in demand.
In addition, sections of Council’s water supply network was installed in the 1950s to the 1980s and is ageing. As a result of this, network failures in these older sections are a real possibility which means we need to be making significant investment in maintaining our existing assets.
To ensure we are well-placed to achieve this, $2.46 million has been allocated on programs throughout the region to upgrade and replace water distribution and reticulation mains.
More than $1 million has been provided in the Budget for planned and reactive maintenance works at Council’s groundwater bore installations and water treatment plants. Work will start this financial year on the detailed investigation and planning associated with the staged upgrade of Council’s Mt Kynoch Water Treatment Plant.
Sewers and maintenance holes are subject to damage from ground movement, tree roots and internal corrosion. To counter this, $2.18 million has been committed for a region-wide sewer and maintenance hole rehabilitation and replacement work.
This allocation is to continue through annual programs, works to maintain the sewerage network through techniques such as sewer relining and replacement, and maintenance hole replacement, protective coatings and structural relining.
In line with our Waste Infrastructure Plan, work will continue on ways to divert waste from our landfills. In addition to this, we have committed $540,000 to undertake preliminary works for future construction of a new landfill cell at our Toowoomba Waste Management Facility. A new landfill cell is required to be constructed approximately every 4-5 years to provide waste disposal airspace and this phase will re-profile land for future stages.
This is a responsible Budget which concentrates on the importance of asset management and renewal while planning for future growth in the Toowoomba Region.