Find out about the 2020/21 Budget, including a rates summary and key major projects.

 

Budget summary

Rates

Rates house Toowoomba

The net overall increase in rates and charges will be 2.95% for an urban residential property. This means the majority of residential ratepayers will have an increase of $95.19 a year, or $1.83 a week, after discount, which includes all rates and charges. 

The increase in the general rate is 2.5%.

Highlighted projects

Community services & facilities

Parks & recreation

Planning & Development

Roads, footpaths, bikeways & drainage

Waste

Wastewater

Water

Read about our featured major projects.  

Where the money goes

where the money goes 

Where the money comes from

where the money comes from 

 

Budget highlights

Cr Paul Antonio
Cr Paul Antonio
Mayor
Economic Development Committee Chair

2020-21 Budget delivers $567m program for services, facilities; dedicated regional pandemic relief projects

My fellow Councillors, staff, ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to table Toowoomba Regional Council’s 2020-21 Budget and Operational Plan.

The past six months have been among the most extraordinary I have seen in more than 38 years in local government.

Our 2020/21 Budget has been framed against global social and economic disruption caused by the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, the likes of which have not been seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Closer to home, we in Australia and the Toowoomba Region have experienced fires, minor floods and the effects of a prolonged drought.

While Australians are accustomed to natural disasters, few of us have experienced such an incredible sequence of events in the space of six months.

Council is aware of the financial, social and emotional toll and disruption that residents have experienced and will continue to face in coming months.

In our role as community builders, I’m proud to announce that today Toowoomba Regional Council is unveiling a $567 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.

I am positive that today’s program will build on our earlier economic stimulus packages that are designed to complement state and federal government economic relief measures to help the community recover as lockdown restrictions continue to ease. 

The Coronavirus pandemic forced Council to reshape our Budget plans to focus sharply on how we can directly support communities across our region. Fortunately, Council’s solid financial footing has allowed us to develop a $215 million capital program along with an operating Budget component of $352 million. 

This includes a $165 million regular 12-month calendar of capital works. 

In addition, Council has devised a dedicated $50 million Pandemic Response Investment program that comprises 64 projects that are being accelerated to stimulate economic activity across the Toowoomba Region.

Council will invite local firms and suppliers to bid for work programs on essential infrastructure and facility upgrades across the region. 

We want local workers and suppliers to deliver projects that originally were scheduled for future Budgets. Stimulating local employment is one of the most constructive and immediate ways Council can help revive and sustain our regional economy. 

It is an appropriate response that is deliberately framed to re-build and revitalise our communities without waiting for outside financial support or approval.

This follows Council’s recent initiative to enhance our Procurement Policy in order to offer local firms the best chance to do business with us. 

Council will:

  • Seek quotes from local suppliers only for procurement under $200,000 (where possible),
  • Give local suppliers an additional 10% price variance for purchases up to $50,000,
  • Give local suppliers an additional 5% price variance for purchases greater than $50,000 but less than $200,000, and
  • Continue to follow the public tender or contractual arrangement exceptions contained within Local Government Regulation 2012 (Regulation) s223 to s235 for procurement with an expected value greater than $200,000.

In addition, Council will give a further 2% price advantage to local suppliers in regional areas (all areas inside the Toowoomba Region boundary that are outside Toowoomba City, i.e. postcode 4350) for anything up to $200,000.

Based on our past prudent financial management, Council’s twin capital works programs have been structured in line with our Long Term Financial Sustainability Program (LTFSP) parameters. 

Council is especially mindful of maintaining a responsible and calculated financial approach in its Budget planning and delivery.  

A capital allocation of $109 million for asset renewal in this Budget emphasises Council’s strong focus on investing in infrastructure renewal programs across our extensive water, wastewater and road networks, plus other community assets, to look after what we have built in the past. 

In the coming financial year, this investment in asset renewal will exceed our depreciation expenses, which further underlines our determination to renew essential infrastructure that services our community.

Council has a legal and moral obligation to maintain its existing infrastructure and our ability to manage our $4.58 billion asset base across 13,000km² is a key performance indicator by which we are judged by the Queensland Audit Office and, more broadly and ultimately, the Queensland Parliament.

In addition, $78 million is set aside for upgrade projects, while $28 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 carefully considered balancing outlays on renewal and upgrade programs with 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 LTFSP, which is not only adopted by Council, but overseen by the Department of Local Government, the Queensland Treasury Corporation and Queensland Audit Office.

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 six years. 

This is a measured and responsible rate rise, with a net overall increase in rates and charges of 2.95% for an urban residential property. 

This means that most residential ratepayers will have an increase of $95.19 a year, or $1.83 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 12 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, like the Coronavirus pandemic.

Going into the 2020-21 financial year, Council is budgeting for an operating surplus of $72,000.

The Queensland Treasury Corporation has maintained Council’s credit rating as Sound with a Neutral Outlook.

The Budget reflects the priorities outlined in Council’s Operational Plan 2020-21 financial year and our Corporate Plan 2019-2024.

Few organisations deliver the range of services that local governments provide for their customers every day, 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:

Supplying safe drinking water to all residents is 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 key consideration for our region’s medium and long-term water solutions.

Council has sought expert and independent third-party advice from our consultant engineers, who helped Seqwater prepare their water security documentation. They are now helping Toowoomba with our Water Futures strategy. 

Council is responsible for a water supply network of more than 2,046km of water pipeline that services more than 62,400 residential, commercial and Council properties. The network supplies drinking water for Toowoomba and surrounding towns of Oakey, Jondaryan, Highfields, Crows Nest, Kingsthorpe, Gowrie Junction, Meringandan, Wyreema, Westbrook, Hodgson Vale and Goombungee. We are responsible for more than 1,380km of wastewater pipelines.

Council has supplied more than 13,835 megalitres of treated drinking water to connected properties in this financial year up to the end of May 2020. 

Our focus on water security has seen Council budget for a continuing reliance on our water supply insurance policy, the Wivenhoe Pipeline, which allows us to pump 10,000 megalitres from Wivenhoe Dam to Cressbrook Dam to service users connected to this network. We are budgeted to lift the full allocation. 

Council has completed an initial 12 months of continuous pumping, in which we lifted 9,053 megalitres. We are servicing the pipeline in anticipation of resuming pumping in early July 2020.

While this agreement offers water security, Council is working with other levels of government to plan for alternative water sources to cater for our longer-term needs based on projected population growth.

I expect a decision from the State Government on the feasibility of a southern pipeline that will supply water to Cambooya, Nobby, Greenmount and Clifton as well as connect to Warwick in the Southern Downs Regional Council. The pipeline will ensure water security in times of drought.

An immediate priority is securing a long-term water security solution for Clifton, Nobby, Greenmount and Cambooya.

I will continue to meet with Mayors of surrounding local governments, including representatives in New South Wales, to discuss new water supply options. The drought affects us all, regardless of state borders, and we must look for co-operative agreements to deliver safe and secure new water supplies.

The ongoing drought continues to affect the lives of many people on the land and their wider communities. Council is 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 and likely associated south western rail network upgrades, which continues to gather momentum in southern Queensland.

The Toowoomba Region’s decade-long run of unprecedented growth will be seriously challenged by the wider economic downturn caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Council is determined to address and overcome the effects of this disruption with the assistance of the higher levels of government and our partner organisations such as TSBE, the Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce and Industry and their regional counterparts. We will work with partners across the region to deliver an increased range of training support to businesses that will assist them to recover from the pandemic and rebuild employment.

Continued investment and confidence from private enterprise across many different sectors of our economy underpins jobs and will be a vital component in restoring our enviable growth trends. The breadth of our regional economy is one of our greatest strengths and I’m confident that we can harness our combined assets to weather the current downturn and position our region for renewed growth. 

There has never been a more important time for all of us to shop, trade and tour locally. Council will continue to play its part to offer extra support to local firms and operators through our Procurement policy. 

Council will work with its economic development partners to leverage off major infrastructure and private investment projects such as the newly approved Regional Trade Distribution Centre at Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport, a second weekly freight service to Hong Kong, a new CBD hotel and the early planning around a new Toowoomba Hospital. A new hospital would strengthen Toowoomba’s standing as a major regional health hub and will unlock additional investment at the city’s northern entrance.

Council will continue to support and invest in the growth of the Toowoomba CBD, including the Railway Parklands Priority Development Area (PDA), by working with land and property owners, developers, investors, government and professional advisors. Council’s Temporary Toowoomba CBD Development Incentives Policy is aimed at encouraging larger-scale quality new development and investment across the CBD and PDA; especially for the adaptive re-use of heritage listed buildings.

The wider Toowoomba CBD, incorporating the existing Toowoomba Hospital and PDA, provides employment for 18,000 workers and generates more than $2 billion in value-add. Its significance to South West Queensland should not be overlooked. This is highlighted by the completion of more than 40 projects valued at more than $850 million over the past 10 years. 

The City Centre Master Plan has been the catalyst for a range of public and private investments; including laneway development, public realm, parklands and public art.  

Investments in short-stay accommodation, including the Oaks Hotel, the Burke and Wills Hotel and Quest Apartments will attract business travellers and visitors, further supporting the day and night economies. 

Council has great faith in the CBD and sees the potential to support more activity in the ‘missing middle’ and shop-top living conversions to increase the number of residents in and around the CBD. This will provide long-term economic and community benefits.  

Through my association with the Council of Mayors South East Queensland (COMSEQ) I will ensure that our region is positioned to benefit from projects associated with any continuation of the 2032 Olympic Games bid. Irrespective of the bid’s success, there are longer term benefits for the member councils through the 45-minute region plan that is linked to a fast rail connection with Brisbane. 

The ongoing SEQ City Deal process has the potential to facilitate new partnerships that could deliver projects and infrastructure that Council alone could not achieve.

Our magnificent escarpment offers great opportunities to attract tourists whether they are interested in bushwalking, horse riding or mountain bike pursuits. Our region has previously hosted Oceania mountain bike titles and there is great scope to develop appropriate areas for social riding and competition events.

Our wider region, with its unique towns and their surrounding attractions, are ready to welcome visitors. I echo the Premier’s call that now is the time for Queenslanders to explore and truly appreciate the tourism jewels in our own backyard. 

In the past financial year, to May, Council has received more than $28 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.

Council has framed this Budget at a time when funding from higher levels of government remains difficult to source. 

I repeat 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 continue to back 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 does not have the resources to shoulder the full cost of providing essential infrastructure to our growing communities in addition to meeting residents’ growing expectations across our other activities. We will continue to advocate for our fair share of funding to achieve our community goals and ambitions.

External funding support will be needed if Council is to proceed with the next stage of preparatory work at the Bridge Street Quarry Gardens.

Council is determined to capitalise on its strong financial position 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 Deputy Mayor and Finance and Business Strategy Committee chair Cr Geoff McDonald, portfolio leader Cr Kerry Shine, Council’s Acting General Manager of Finance and Business Strategy Ann-Marie Ryan, General Manager of Service Delivery and Sustainability Arun Pratap for their concerted efforts during our Budget preparations. I also pay tribute to former Finance and Business Strategy Committee chair Cr Mike Williams for his stewardship of Council’s financial stability over many years and his portfolio leader of the previous term of Council, Cr Megan O’Hara Sullivan. 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 James O'Shea

Cr James O'Shea
Cr James O'Shea
Environment & Community Committee chair

 

It will be another big year for the group in Council that covers the people, property and the popularity of our Region.

In the 2020/21 budget Council has allocated $11.47 million for 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 2020/21 will see the start of construction of the new facility that will deliver a modern purpose-built library, customer service centre and community meeting facility in Highfields. Roadworks will be completed in 2020, followed by the construction of the Library building with the new facility expected to open in late 2021.

Council respects the importance to the RSL and the broader community of the state heritage-listed Toowoomba Soldiers' Memorial Hall. This year $4.25 million will continue major refurbishments on this prominent memorial. 

The work this year will include re-roofing at the rear of the building, renovation to all areas of the original Memorial Hall, amenities, kitchen and bar upgrades, the addition of a lift and the reconstruction of the staircase to the original design. 

This year Council will continue construction of Carnival Lane at 174 Margaret Street in the heart of the Toowoomba CBD. At the cost of $1 million, the Carnival Lane will be complete by the end of the year (weather permitting). It will provide an essential connection from Margaret Street through to Jessie Street, Annand Street businesses and public car parks.

This year Council will continue to upgrade the Empire Theatre with $1.1 million assigned to maintenance of this premium theatre facility. Most of the work will be 'back of house' and includes upgrades to the performers dressing rooms and rehearsal rooms. 

Works also include removal of a wall in the back-stage area to improve functionality and capacity. The project will help ensure the Theatre precinct remains a significant landmark of the community, through the refurbishment and upgrade of existing facilities.

A $1.5 million upgrade to the Millmerran Swimming Pool will be a long-term investment into this fantastic community facility. The project includes the renovation of the main pool and the toddler pool with an upgrade of associated pumps, filters and pipework. 

Council is committed to making our pools more accessible. This year, $950,000 is earmarked for construction of new amenities at Millmerran Swimming Pool with open plan change rooms have significant accessibility upgrades. 

The Oakey Swimming Pool will receive $847,000 for the renewal of change rooms and construction of a new Kiosk. Yarraman Pool will also benefit from $415,000 that will fund new change rooms and a new ramp for improved accessibility. These upgrades are part of Council's commitment to providing accessibility to our Region's pools.

The Clifton Museum is a link to its past. This year $500,000 has been allocated to finalise the replacement of the former Clifton Museum building

Cambooya Hall will receive $220,000 in this year's budget for painting the external walls and the replacement of roof sheeting. The work will maintain and respect the historical features of the building.

A budget allocation of $1.2 million will also see the completion of the new Charlton Depot, including optimisation of the required solar power plant and equipment that will power the facility. The new modern, intelligent and sustainable facility will meet the current and future needs of our staff and the communities we serve.

The Community Grants program will have $740,000 made available across two rounds of funding for the seven categories of grants. Round One of the community grants, will open in July and I encourage community groups to apply.

This year's budget includes $30,000 for a Community Celebration Trailer. The trailer will be fitted with barbecue, cold room, lights, power, a water tank and awnings. It will be available for use at community celebrations and events. 

$33,900 has also been set aside for a Toowoomba CBD Mobility Map. The online map will include accessibility mapping, public toilets and critical community services together with detailed information about the level of effort and gradient of all footpaths.  The online map will assist those with mobility issues, as well as seniors and families with prams to determine the best route to access our Region's facilities.

In 2020/21, the recently established Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Advisory Committee will enjoy its second year of operation. The committee will provide valuable input to assist Council to address issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our community. I look forward to seeing the positive outcomes that will come from this group.

Our Region is a rich tapestry of cultural diversity.  So far this year, Council has conducted and supported 138 programs that reached out to more than 23,000 people through our multi-cultural services activities. It included events such as the Toowoomba Languages and Cultures Festival that celebrates the diversity of our Region. Council will continue to provide an officer to support our multi-cultural community.

Council's Youth Services team is always finding ways to get youth involved in the community and giving opportunities to our young people. In 2019/20, Council has supported 97 initiatives for youth with more than 16,000 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 583 volunteers that assist Council throughout the year.

 

Cr Tim McMahon

Cr Tim McMahon
Cr Tim McMahon
Environment & Community Committee portfolio leader

In 2020-21 Toowoomba Region continues to improve the areas in which we gather as a community including our parks, museums, art galleries and libraries. 

The three-year Escarpment Parks and Picnic Point Regional Park Upgrades will continue in 2020-21. This year’s budget allocates $3.89 million, to deliver new tourism infrastructure that capitalises on Toowoomba’s Great Dividing Range escarpment parks and unlocks nature-based, sport and recreation activities. 

In 2020-21 construction will begin on an upgrade to the Tobruk Memorial Drive Lookout. The works will include a new lookout with connecting paths surrounded by soft landscaping. There will also be new footpaths and street furniture that will provide additional lookout options.

The project will include an upgrade of existing multi-use recreational trails at Redwood Park, Jubilee Park and Glen Lomond Park. Construction will also begin on new recreational trails in Tabletop Bushland Reserve and McKnight Park.  A new amenities block will be constructed servicing Jubilee Park.

As part of the project, Council will work with the Lockyer Regional Council to seal Amos Road at Withcott to enable eastern access to Jubilee Park for major sporting events.

This budget will progress the Queens Park Masterplan Implementation Project, with Stage 7 works costing $2.8 million.  The upgrades in 2020/21 will include two new amenities buildings, completion of the Margaret Street Playground, and lighting and pathway upgrades.

Each year Council prioritises park upgrades in growing areas guided by the 2016 Open Space Strategy. In this year’s Budget, Council has allocated $3.23 million for the continued upgrade of the following parks:

  • East Creek parklands, Toowoomba - $500,000
  • Wyreema Park upgrade - $360,000
  • Coronation Park, Harristown - $350,000
  • McMahon Park, Gowrie Junction - $305,000
  • Lions Park, Hodgson Vale - $255,000
  • Pittsworth district parks upgrades - $210,000
  • Rosalie Walk and Settlers Park upgrade, Kingsthorpe - $173,000
  • Oakey Corridor Linear Park-various parks - $144,000
  • Clifton district parks upgrades - $144,000
  • Carly Hibberd Park, Kearney’s Springs - $100,000
  • Riethmuller Park, Glenvale - $100,000
  • Lake Annand, East Toowoomba - $50,000
  • Pioneer Park, Goombungee - $48,000
  • Toowoomba Region Sports Precinct (business case and pre-construction) - $500,000

The budget provides $880,000 to renew and repair buildings located at parks throughout the Region.  The improvements in 2020/21 will include refurbishment of ANZAC Park Toilet block, Millmerran and the replacement of toilet blocks at Ravensbourne Recreation Reserve, Lions Park, Pittsworth and John Trousdell Park, Cotswold Hills.

Council will this year upgrade Kingsthorpe Recreation Reserve field providing local clubs and school sporting teams a better-quality playing surface. At the cost of $160,000, the field surface improvements will include the installation of irrigation surface profiling, seeding and top dressing.

This budget has allocated $1.94 million for facility upgrades at Nell E Robinson Park Clubhouse.  This funding will complete the design and construction of a new modern amenities building and canteen, for the benefit of more than 1,800 members of local Netball clubs as well as local, regional and major school netball carnival participants and spectators.

The Play Facilities Renewal Program provides for the replacement, relocation and renewal or removal of existing park equipment including softfall and shade structures. This year $521,500 has been allocated for safety improvement works and renewals across the Region including:

  • Barry Cunning Park, Yarraman, 
  • Garnet Lehmann Park, Toowoomba, 
  • Jack Street Park, Darling Heights 
  • Newington Park, Toowoomba, 
  • Rocla Court Park, Glenvale, 
  • Griffiths Park, Rangeville, 
  • Norman Park, Newtown, 
  • Bunya Park, Toowoomba, 
  • Bowenville Park, Bowenville, 
  • Lions Park, Oakey,
  • Alan Cox Park, Oakey 
  • Sister Kenny Park, Nobby, 
  • Henry Russell Stewart Park, Cecil Plains.

This year $160,000 is allocated to the Play Facilities Upgrade Program for improvements at Bicentennial Park, Meringandan and High Street Park, Wyreema.

Council maintains over 225km of fire management trails on more than 7000 hectares of bushland reserve.  Each year we invest in extending and upgrading this network of fire trails. In the 2020/21 budget we will allocate $940,000 for new, renewal and upgrade of fire management access.

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.

$1.37 million is allocated for fencing renewal.  This rolling program of replacement of sections of existing fencing and barriers will see projects at Cressbrook Dam, Cooby Dam, Perseverance Dam, Atherton Memorial Park, Harwood Park, Warwick Street Park and includes upgrades for the Wild Dog Check Fence. The Wild Dog Check Fence is a strategically important barrier for wild dog control in Southern Queensland.  The check fence provides essential protection to our livestock industries. 

Environmental Health Service covers a range of functions that promotes community safety.  The actions the group takes in animal management, food safety, and the amenity of local areas through compliance with overgrown properties, removing abandoned vehicles and illegal dumping.

In 2020-21 this area of Council continues its focus on lowering the incidence of dog attacks in the Region and encouraging good public health practices within the food and beverage industries.

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 $10,596 for art collection acquisitions. 

Our libraries continually seek ways to improve service to our customers.  Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a key technology used in Libraries to enhance the customer experience, and in this budget, we will spend $13,000 on upgrades.

In a world-first, Toowoomba Regional Library will be adding a self-issuing function to the MyTRlibrary App. This new feature allows customers to borrow resources using their phone or mobile device, avoiding the need to queue at self-check kiosks or service desks and allowing a smoother customer experience. 

This year we have bold ambitions for our parks, libraries and galleries.

Cr Geoff McDonald

Deputy Mayor Geoff McDonald
Cr Geoff McDonald
Deputy Mayor - Finance & Business Strategy Committee chair

Highlights

  • $567 million Budget.
  • 2.5% increase to the general rate (average urban residential property).
  • Net overall increase of rates and charges 2.95% (average urban residential property).
  • Capital (infrastructure) program of $165 million.
  • Operating surplus of $72,000.
  • Operational Budget of $352 million.
  • New capital projects is $11.8 million.
  • Pandemic response investment of $50 million.

 

This year will see Council invest $567 million in the combined operational and capital budget.

This year, we have faced the extra challenge to our economy and society through the coronavirus pandemic. 

By way of demonstration of Council’s commitment to the community, business confidence and the organisation. The budget has been delivered earlier than usual to give confidence to the community and provide a positive financial outlook for the future.

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.

Council is no different to other organisations, or indeed households, and coronavirus has forced change. Like so many impacted, we have needed to adapt to ensure that essential services are not impacted.

For Council to maintain its long-term financial sustainability, we will see a General Rate rise of 2.5%. This increase is consistent with our previous financial plans and has enabled Council to provide support measures as we navigate through the pandemic as a community. 

The net increase from rates and charges amounts to an average 2.95% or $1.85 per week. It provides a small surplus of approximately $72,000 that meets the Queensland Treasury Corporation’s requirements and caters for unexpected expenses. 

Water security continues to be at the forefront of policy discussion for Council. 2020/21 is the third year of a five-year price path for water as a result of advice from Queensland Treasury Corporation that introduced a split pricing approach to maintain a financially sustainable water network. Therefore, we will see an increase in water rates for residential properties of 4.1% and 6% for non-residential properties.

Council’s water business consists of over $924 million in infrastructure, which requires a significant renewal or replacement investment, and this was the primary contributor to the change in water pricing.

My fellow Councillors and I, and our staff, carefully consider the Budget and are aware of the immense responsibility to balance the impact today on ratepayers, with the decisions that affect the future sustainability of our Region. 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.

Council provided financial relief measures, including $125 rate relief in stage one of our Pandemic response, meaning that the average residential property saw no increase in their rates for the 2019-20 financial year.

The 2020-21 Budget will see the next pandemic response and has a focus on stimulating our local businesses that employ local people supporting local families.

Council has, for the first time, separated our overall capital works program into two parts. The total Capital Works Program of $215 million includes $165 million for annual capital works with an additional $50 million structured as a Pandemic Response Investment to provide genuine opportunities for the private sector. 

The purpose of this innovative Capital Works Program is to stimulate local business that employs local people supporting local families who live in the Region. The $50 million works program will see 64 shovel ready projects made available to the private sector through our procurement arrangements.

This package, with Council’s amended Procurement policy, places extra weighting for local suppliers, giving local business the best possible opportunity to work with Council in the 2020/21 financial year.

Council’s 2020/21 Budget will support the community during this challenging time, but thankfully will not leave a burden to ratepayers in the future.

Council’s works program this year places a strong emphasis on the renewal of Council assets with $109 million allocated to infrastructure renewal programs and $78 million allocated to planned upgrades. In comparison, the 2020/21 Budget allocates $28 million to the construction of new infrastructure. 

Council’s significant investment in renewal activities achieves an Asset Sustainability Ratio of 102%, exceeding the target of more than 90% set by the Queensland Government’s Sustainability Guidelines for local government. 

The Queensland Treasury Corporation has again maintained Council’s credit rating as Sound with a Neutral Outlook. This reflects our current financial strength, and importantly, our effectiveness and commitment to long-term financial planning.

This Budget reflects the priorities articulated in the Operational Plan (2020/21 financial year) and the Council’s Corporate Plan (2019-2024). The five-year Corporate Plan that came into effect in July 2019 is our guiding document for delivering services to the community, with the Operational Plan detailing the actual activities and progress towards our goals during 2020/21. 

The Strategic Asset Management function of Council plays a vital role in prioritising our assets and determining options for maintaining Council’s critical infrastructure, building and property portfolio. Council manages an asset base of more than $4.58 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 essential 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.

In this Budget, Council has Bold Ambitions to improve services in a financially responsible way.

 

Cr Kerry Shine

Cr Kerry Shine
Cr Kerry Shine
Finance & Business Strategy portfolio leader 

Highlights

  • 2019 community survey results.
  • Council website - over 300,000 views on average per month.
  • Council's social media channels - 55,800 followers.
  • $2.7 million in ICT initiatives.

The 2020/21 Budget reinforces Council’s commitment to improving our essential services through feedback from our many stakeholders.

As a service-based organisation, communication with our community, industry and our staff is of vital importance.

The year ahead will see Council continuing to refine business practices in line with the feedback from the 2019 Community Survey. 

The survey drew feedback from a broad cross-section of our community in terms of demographics and geographical location. It provided all community members with the opportunity to participate online and via postal feedback forms.

The Community Survey was first conducted in 2008, 2017 and again in 2019.  The 2019 survey results will be reviewed and acted upon by Council this year. The increased frequency of the Community Survey to two years ensures that Council is designing and delivering services that meet the expectations of our community. 

The year ahead will again see our Customer Service staff assist our residents with more than 220,000 contacts either in-person, over the phone, or online.

We continue to look at how we best serve our residents. Council’s Customer Experience Policy sets a clear direction for staff on how we consistently demonstrate a ‘Community First’ approach in everything we do. 

In 2020/21, the Stakeholder Engagement and Communications team will start a new three-year strategy that ensures Council’s communication and engagement processes are contemporary, innovative, effective and consistent.  This strategy demonstrates Council’s commitment to continuous improvement, open and transparent communication and community participation in decision making.

The Stakeholder Engagement group is on the front line working with our community, stakeholders and staff who are affected by Council activities.  The team engages with the community on nearly 100 projects of all scales, including the new Highfields Library, Southern Trunk Pipeline, Toowoomba City Masterplan review and also our many parks, pool, road, drainage, water and sewerage upgrades.

More than ever, Council’s website is the front door for many of our customers, and the recent update of this critical tool will meet growing demand.  Each month the main Council website averages more than 300,000 page views. 

Council’s social media presence continues to grow, attracting more than 55,000 followers across all channels. The BOLD magazine that is distributed to all residents also exists on a digital platform. We are encouraging subscribers to view the publication online. 

The media team maintains Council messages to our traditional media channels to lift the profile of the Toowoomba Region. Reaching a wider audience means that the team is using a variety of media platforms to keep residents updated about Council activities. In 2020/21, the internal communication will continue to increase engagement with staff to ensure an informed workplace and that Council’s messaging is consistent. 

Council will continue its Service Delivery Program in the coming financial year to ensure we have the right shape, size and finances to deliver essential services to our communities into the future.

During this unique time, our Service Delivery Program has refocussed to include Council’s economic relief to the community, as well as managing our staff wellbeing, work locations and knowing where our staff are throughout the pandemic.

Employees’ health has been a priority for Council during the pandemic with 558 staff members working remotely. Notwithstanding the difficult times in which we live, Council has continued to deliver essential services.

Our People and Organisational Development Branch cares 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.

The Toowoomba Region is one of the largest local employers of apprentices, trainees and graduates and in 2019/20 Council will employ more than 112 local people in these highly sought after categories. Council has Bold Ambitions to be an employer of choice.

The Region remains committed to the development of our staff, and we currently have nine graduates, seven cadets, eight interns, three scholars, 25 apprentices, two school-based apprentices, 47 trainees and 11 school-based trainees. Council has one of the most extensive contracted training programs in the Region. 

Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) continues to perform at high levels across the organisation.  It is evident with Council’s WHS being the only Council Wide Certification under any standard, including AS/NZS 4801:2001, OHSAS 18001:2007 and the Australian Government building and construction WHS Accreditation Scheme; one of only four Councils across Australia certified under this scheme.

Reflecting this hard work, Council has received an 11% reduction in our Workers Compensation Contribution Rate, which translates to a significant cost saving. 

Council also received the 2019-2020 Local Government Risk Management Award for its work on the national AUSTROADS Temporary Traffic Management Working Group representing Local Government.

Council continues to have a significant focus on internal governance training. In the past 12 months, over 1200 staff have attended governance training in matters such as Code of Conduct and Anti-Bullying. Council remains proactive in developing staff skills in these contemporary areas. Council will continue working with staff to identify critical areas that are of concern to staff. Council is committed to conducting a full staff survey in November 2020.

Council’s commitment to contemporary workplace issues is ongoing. As an example, Council’s FluVax program had a record response rate this year with well over 800 staff opting to receive the vaccination. Also, Council’s in-house International Women’s Day celebrations had a record number of attendees, from all genders.

Council’s Information Communications and Technology (ICT) group will continue to build on the online service offerings to assist our customers.  This year, ICT will invest $1.2 million in equipment replacement and a further $1.5 million to upgrade Council’s Enterprise Resource Planning software. 

In this Budget, Council continues its Bold Ambitions to build on our Rich Traditions of customer service.

Cr Carol Taylor

Cr Carol Taylor
Cr Carol Taylor
Infrastructure Committee chair

Over the past 12 months our communities have experienced drought, fire and floods and now in the first year of a new term of Council, we have the added challenge of navigating our way through the Coronavirus pandemic. During this time it’s crucial we all unite to get through these challenges and I believe investing in improving and maintaining our infrastructure is the best way to do this.

Investing in major projects and continued maintenance/renewal of our assets is the key to getting our communities going again. To do this, we’re investing $65 million in our road and drainage capital budget, $13.6 million in fleet and logistics and a continuation of operational spend ensuring a commitment to road safety across the Toowoomba Region.

Council has committed $2.28 million to complete the Tummaville Road Bridge Renewal where we are replacing the existing single-lane timber bridge with a new multi-span two-lane concrete bridge. The Australian Government has contributed $700,000 towards the project as part of its Bridges Renewal Program.

We’ve allocated a further $2.7 million to begin work on the next section of upgrading and widening the Bowenville–Moola Road which is a key freight route in our Region with seven cattle feedlots and four piggery operations. This investment will not only create jobs but strengthens the economic growth of key industries in the Toowoomba Region and its neighbours.

Council will undertake a number of upgrade projects this year including the Jondaryan-Saint Ruth Road worth $3.2 million, as well as the completion of sealing works on Wyreema-Cambooya Road, which will cater for increased heavy vehicle traffic and improved amenity along the road at a cost of $500,000.

We’re focused on strengthening our regional areas with agriculture the backbone of our Region. These important projects are vital to the economic growth of our country areas and will not only enhance productivity for our rural residents but will improve the overall safety in these areas.

As part of the revitalisation of Toowoomba’s CBD, $2.8 million has been allocated to commence the Urban Renewal Project for the Russell Street precinct which is an important component of the CBD with strong heritage and cultural significance. The Toowoomba City Centre Master Plan identifies Russell Street as a catalytic project.

This financial year we will complete the repair work on our roads impacted by floods in December 2018 as part of the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA). Works will also commence through the DRFA (flood restoration) to allow for the reconstruction of our essential infrastructure damaged through the heavy rainfall event in February 2020. A preliminary budget of $3.14 million has been provided to commence work on the 2020 program.

Through the Australian Government’s Black Spot Program, Council is commencing safety improvements on the Kingsthorpe Haden Road ($630,000) and Yalangur-Lilyvale Road ($500,000) and completing works at the intersection of Perth and Cohoe Street ($500,000).

Council will also help improve safety at our schools through the School Transport Infrastructure Program (STIP). As part of this work, $1.03 million will go towards a new off-street parking facility which will service the Glenvale State Primary School. We will also complete work on a $420,000 signalisation upgrade at the South and Burton Street intersection to address the safety concerns for students and commuters at the Harristown State Primary School and High School.

As part of our asset renewal, Council has committed more than $33 million to rehabilitating and resealing our sealed road network, for gravel resheeting and renewing asphalt surfaces across the Toowoomba Region.

This is a significant spend, which underlines our commitment to maintaining and improving the road network, especially in regional areas. This is something I have advocated for every year since I’ve been on Council. It’s vital that residents in our Region have a reasonable level of access to the road network, regardless where you live. In addition to this, we will be undertaking a number of low cost seals and rural town upgrade projects, which is being outlined by our portfolio lead Councillor Melissa Taylor.

While this is a challenging time for our residents, I want to reassure our community that we’re behind you. Remember, when you leave the house, every journey starts and ends on a local road.

Cr Melissa Taylor

Cr Melissa Taylor
Cr Melissa Taylor
Infrastructure Committee portfolio leader

The Toowoomba Region continues to develop and grow and it’s important we facilitate this growth in the right manner. Residents choose to live here for the unparalleled lifestyle we offer and it’s vital we continue to provide residents with the essential services and facilities they need to maintain our way of life.

As Toowoomba continues its transition from a country town to a city, we need to ensure our parking options continue to meet the current and future needs of motorists. In line with the Toowoomba City Centre Parking Strategy, this financial year we will invest $300,000 to begin the development phase for new smart parking technology across the Toowoomba CBD parking precinct, which will enable Council to more effectively manage future parking needs.

In addition to this, throughout the CBD we will continue our program of upgrading assets with the renewal of converting street lighting to LED technology at a cost of $50,000, replacing single head parking meters at a cost of $60,000 and the replacement/upgrade of existing machines to ‘Pay and Display’ machines at a cost of $80,000.

Providing adequate public transport remains high on our radar with Council allocating $200,000 for its program of renewing existing bus stops across the Toowoomba Region. In addition to this, we will continue upgrading our bus stops to ensure they meet disability compliance, as per Federal legislation at a cost of $300,000.

Council will also be ensuring it meets disability compliance with its Footpath Crossovers Renewal Program throughout the Region. This is an ongoing program of renewing numerous kerb crossings to comply with disability access requirements across the existing road network at a cost of $300,000.

Ensuring residents are able to move throughout the Region is an ongoing focus for Council. This financial year, we will continue renewing substandard sections of footpaths with $850,000 allocated in the Budget ($750,000 concrete and $100,000 asphalt). There is also an additional $500,000 for CBD footpath renewals.

Whilst the Region continues to experience the effects of severe drought, Council is still conscious of the need to progress its stormwater renewal program and has committed $500,000 to further work. While major infrastructure projects are critical for our Region, I’m pleased to see a concerted effort in this Budget towards upgrading our networks in our regional areas. This is something our portfolio chair Councillor Carol Taylor has been an advocate for over many years and I’m happy to join her on this journey.

Over the next 12 months we will be undertaking low cost seals upgrades in the following locations:

  • Spies Road, Meringandan $200,000
  • Road upgrade from Oaklands Road to Northview Drive, Cabarlah $185,000
  • Barton Street, Greenmount $150,000
  • Sexton-Weise Road, Oakey $300,000
  • Davidson Lane, Hampton $150,000
  • Williams and Janetzki Road, Oakey $250,000
  • Chapman Street, Hampton $200,000.


In this Budget we’ve carefully managed the needs of all the areas throughout the Toowoomba Region, as we strive to make our Region a better place for all of our residents.

Cr Megan O'Hara Sullivan

Cr Megan O'Hara Sullivan
Cr Megan O'Hara Sullivan
Planning & Development Committee chair

Highlights

  • Establish a Regional Growth Plan: This will be a foundation plan that will underpin the new Toowoomba Region Planning Scheme and Local Government Infrastructure Plan (LGIP) to cater for employment and population growth forecast for the next 20 years.
  • Regional Growth Plan: Progress work to promote the potential opportunities for private investment in the Toowoomba CBD, including inner-city living.
  • Climate Action Strategy: Council will establish a clear policy position to inform strategic land use and infrastructure planning, and sustainable design, to inform the new Planning Scheme.

Council’s Strategic Planning and Economic Development branch will refresh the vision and planning framework for our region’s future.

Three major strategic projects will be the focus of the program over several years, including establishing a Regional Growth Plan, preparing the new Planning Scheme and a major review of the LGIP.  

These formative plans will update and reset our strategic direction to ensure it continues to meet community needs and expectations over the next 20 years and aligns with State planning land use and economic development policy.

Throughout this program there will be multiple opportunities for the community and interested stakeholders to have a say about the future of the region.

The Toowoomba Region has many enviable lifestyle attributes, from our parks and open spaces, the special character of our rich heritage across Toowoomba city and our regional towns and our established infrastructure, that attracts people to live, work, play and study here.

Our region’s population is expected to increase by an additional 54,000 people over the next 25 years.

Our formative strategies will provide clear planning policies and direction for residents and the development industry.

  • Regional Growth Plan: The Regional Growth Plan is the foundation document that will establish a clear, coordinated and sustainable long-term population and employment growth strategy for the region. It will guide the development and delivery of infrastructure. It will help us to manage growth in line with the South East Queensland Regional Plan and community expectations around liveability, lifestyle and regional character.
  • New Planning Scheme 2024. In December 2019, Council considered a report on the major review of the Toowoomba Regional Planning Scheme and resolved to prepare a new planning scheme to address the findings of the review. The review found that the current planning scheme had served the community well, but that there are a range of key issues that would be best dealt with by preparing a new planning scheme. The new plan will be prepared over four stages. The first stage starting in 2020-21 will include strategic work to provide a clear set of planning principles and planning policy to inform how development will be managed.

Council will continue to develop other key strategic projects that influence and contribute to our liveability. These include:

  • Climate Action Strategy: Council will establish a clear policy position to inform strategic land use and infrastructure planning, and sustainable design, to inform the new Planning Scheme. Council resolved to join the ‘Queensland Climate Resilient Council’ in September 2019. The strategy will be underpinned by Council’s involvement as part of that program.
  • Green IS implementation: Council adopted the Green Infrastructure Strategy in October 2019 to plan for, and manage, our natural and living assets. The next phase of implementation will focus on integrating the strategy as part of the new Planning Scheme, and auditing and mapping green infrastructure across the region to identify key areas for future connection and focus.
  • Toowoomba Region Urban Form Framework: This will ensure a place-focused planning and urban design approach that recognises the unique character of our region. It will inform the new Planning Scheme that will guide the built form of future development across the region.
  • Attract CBD investment: Council will progress the implementation of the Toowoomba City Centre Master Plan and the Railway Parklands Priority Development Area.  Council will work to attract investment in urban renewal and city centre projects, including accelerating inner-city living opportunities.
  • City Centre Action Plan 2020: It’s 10 years since the City Centre Master Plan was adopted and implementation has progressed steadily over that time. Community and stakeholder input received during the City Centre Master Plan review (June-July 2020) will inform the opportunities and priority actions for the future. This 10-year review will also provide an ideal opportunity to plan for our post-COVID 19 future and refresh our plan for a more vibrant CBD.

Council is continuing to use its design specialists across the Planning and Development Group aiming to promote excellence in architecture and urban design, heritage conservation and landscape architecture.

The Regional Architecture and Heritage Services branch has performed more than 550 architectural and urban design consultations this financial year, with an additional 450 heritage advisory service consultations over the past year.

Free heritage advice services are available to offer insight and direction 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.

Residents’ pride in their home improvement 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 regional Heritage Advisory Committee (HAC) has met regularly over the past year to offer advice and information to Council, in relation to heritage issues.

The HAC has compiled a Toowoomba Heritage self-drive tours booklet that lists around 100 places of interest around Toowoomba city.

The booklet is planned for release later in 2020 and categorises the city into four distinct precincts including, built form areas plus places or buildings with particular Indigenous, cultural or environmental significance.

As part of the Planning Scheme review, a raft of guidelines and design examples is being developed to inform the Planning Scheme. These guidelines will promote and influence design outcomes across the region, from urban design and lot reconfiguration through to building design.

The Development Services branch will further streamline processes and procedures to ensure Council is responding to legislative time constraints and investors’ requirements.

Following extensive one-on-one engagement with development industry members, Council has implemented an Action Plan to deliver business and process improvements to better service the development industry.

Council is rolling out an improved service delivery model including; the issuing of draft conditions, refined pre-lodgement processes and the establishment of a major projects protocol to assist in expediting the approvals process.

 

Cr Bill Cahill

Cr Bill Cahill
Cr Bill Cahill
Planning & Development portfolio leader

Highlights

  • Informed planning: The new planning scheme will review policy settings and undertake a statutory update of the Local Government Infrastructure Plan (LGIP) to cater for population and employment growth.
  • Encourage regional business stimulation: Assist with measures to help small business and regional towns recover from the economic downturn.
  • Central Highfields Structure plan: Council adopted the Central Highfields Structure Plan in December 2019 and is finalising design guidelines.

Council will undertake a major review of the Local Government Infrastructure Plan (LGIP). 

The revised LGIP will include a 10-15-year plan to service our growing communities with essential infrastructure. 

The Planning Act requires that local governments undertake a major review every five years. 

Toowoomba Regional Council was the second local authority after Logan city to adopt an infrastructure plan in 2017.

The LGIP is part of the Planning Scheme that deals with development infrastructure. It provides transparency around Council’s provision of trunk infrastructure and allows Council to impose conditions relating to necessary trunk infrastructure on development approvals.

Planning for infrastructure is a key part of the land use planning system across Queensland as it identifies the infrastructure required to service growth in an efficient, sequential and orderly manner. This offers certainty to communities and the development industry on the future of our region.

Council will review the information in the plan covering the type, cost, size and expected timing of infrastructure. 

These details also feed into other Council business functions such as asset management plans, capital works programs and financial plans.

The LGIP identifies trunk infrastructure (water, sewerage, stormwater, transport, parks and community facilities) that is required to service urban development at the desired standard for our future communities.

We know our region will continue to grow and our planning will enable Council to estimate the cost of trunk infrastructure for which it is then able to levy infrastructure charges on development to help cover the cost of providing trunk infrastructure for new growth areas.

The LGIP is the critical ingredient for responsibly delivering urban development in accordance with the Toowoomba Region Planning Scheme.

Without properly coordinated infrastructure planning and delivery we cannot have ongoing urban development.

Council will continue to develop other key strategic projects that influence and contribute to our liveability. These include:

  • Encourage regional business stimulation and assist in the recovery of small business and regional towns: The Community Economic Development Grant program is aimed at building the capacity of regional groups. Council is supportive of Chambers of Commerce, Progress Associations and other not-for-profit groups that deliver economic benefits to their communities. We will continue to assist our small business community through delivery of training to target their specific recovery needs.
  • Incentive policies across the region: Council is continuing the Temporary Incentives Policy to target substantial investment and stimulate CBD projects aligned with the City Centre Master Plan and Railway Parklands Priority Development Area (PDA). The Temporary Economic Development Incentives for District Townships provides support and encourages investment to support and maintain our vibrant regional districts. 
  • Addressing skill shortages: The Regional Skills & Investment Strategy, funded by the Queensland Government, will continue to address vocational skill requirements for three key industries across the region.
  • Central Highfields Structure Plan: Council adopted the Central Highfields Structure Plan in December 2019 and is finalising the urban design guidelines. We are grateful for the input provided by the community in the preparation of these plans. The plans detail how Council’s land 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. The next phase will be the preparation of an investment strategy that will ensure the benefits of the plan are realised, including private investment opportunities.

Cr Rebecca Vonhoff

Cr Rebecca Vonhoff
Cr Rebecca Vonhoff
Water & Waste Committee chair

Highlights 

Water security is the highest priority for the Toowoomba Regional Council.

Council understands the need for both long-term and immediate water security for the entire Region and this has been reflected with almost $90 million dedicated to Waste and Water Service capital projects in the 2020-21 Budget.

A key project this year will be the Southern Trunk Pipeline which will help provide a water security solution for the towns of Clifton, Nobby, Greenmount and Cambooya. There is $4.5 million set aside in this Budget to begin that work but we know this is only one part of providing water security for these towns. Prior to undertaking this work, we will continue energetic and persistent discussions with both the Southern Downs Regional Council and the State Government to determine the further need and feasibility of a pipeline to connect our two regions.

In Clifton, we’ve committed $2 million towards ongoing bore water upgrades. We want to make sure that people who are in Clifton are able to turn on the tap and have the same water quality and security as someone who turns on the tap in Toowoomba. At the moment the most reliable source for water delivered to Clifton is for it to be trucked in - a massive logistical undertaking at considerable expense, but we take our responsibilities to serve everyone in our region seriously. We will keep carting in water until we’re able to connect residents to the Toowoomba Bulk Water Supply and continue to monitor water quality from the local bore field regularly.

As well as looking at opportunities to increase water security, Council recognises water is a limited resource and is focused on refining its practices where possible. This year Council will begin testing its Smart Water Meter Program. Through smart meter technology, residents will be able to monitor their water usage and identify leaks which will lead to savings.

Council will continue to progress work on its Waste Infrastructure Plan in the upcoming year as it completes the Kleinton Waste Management Facility. With the existing site reaching capacity, $11.2 million has been allocated for the redevelopment of the Kleinton Tier 2 waste management facility, with works expected to be completed in the first half of 2021.

In other areas of the Region, we have a number of landfill sites nearing capacity so they will need to be upgraded to transfer stations. As such, we have set aside $420,000 in Yarraman, $735,000 in Millmerran and $420,000 in the southern growth corridor to begin detailed design of new facilities.

This year Council will finalise the design and construction work at Wetalla so it’s able to accept power from the landfill gas generator. This is an innovative and exciting project which will utilise the gas to generate electricity to offset about 60 per cent of the power consumption at Wetalla, rather than simply flaring.

In setting the Budget for this year Council knows that water security for the Region is no simple fix. The Region’s location at the top of the Great Dividing Range means water needs to be moved uphill, which is expensive.

Across 13,000 km², Council has challenges associated with topography, water security and ageing water infrastructure but we’re committed to delivering the best possible service we can to our residents.

Cr Nancy Sommerfield

Cr Nancy Sommerfield
Cr Nancy Sommerfield
Water & Waste portfolio leader

Highlights

With an increasing population, we understand there is a need to provide long-term water security for our residents, and in doing this, it’s equally important we find the balance between providing new infrastructure with the needs of ongoing maintenance and replacement costs for existing assets.

In this Budget, I’m proud to see Council has placed a major focus on renewing water and waste infrastructure throughout the Region.

To do this, Council will accelerate $17.7 million in to the staged-replacement of the Perseverance raw water main from Pechey Reservoirs to the Mt Kynoch Water Treatment Plant. This pipeline is a critical piece of infrastructure, supplying water to residents connected to the Toowoomba Bulk Water Supply.

In addition to this, $6.42 million will go towards upgrading the Perseverance Pump Station. During the bushfires last financial year, our water systems were pushed to the limits, so I’m pleased to see this project in the upcoming Budget as it will allow the station to pump 550 litres per second, which is a significant upgrade from the current system and takes pressure off the systems at our other dams.

This is a critical upgrade for Council’s water infrastructure network that ensures there is a continued safe and reliable operation of our water pumping stations.

As part of upgrading existing assets, Council will continue to invest in its treatment plants. At the Mt Kynoch Water Treatment Plant, Council will spend $3 million on the staged capacity upgrade from 55ML/day to 79ML/day.

In Crows Nest, we’re undertaking staged planning, approvals, design and construction of a Wastewater Treatment Plant which will replace the existing lagoons. In addition to this, there will also be $2.7 million spent on upgrading the Gowrie Creek Trunk Sewer.

As well as upgrading our water network, Council is committed to progressing work with its Waste Infrastructure Plan. As we look ahead, we need to identify future growth and capacity needs throughout the Region.

A number of Council’s landfill sites will undertake rehabilitation projects this year. As part of this process, Council will profile each site to permit suitable stormwater drainage, cap the old landfill using soil, geocomposite liners or other techniques and revegetate the areas.

The waste facilities undergoing rehabilitation works this financial year include Irongate $100,000, Brookstead $610,000, Pilton $510,000 and Quinalow $200,000.

This has been a challenging Budget for Council but one which concentrates on the importance of asset management and renewal while keeping our eye on future growth in the Toowoomba Region.