I am delighted to present a budget for the 2017/18 financial year that respects our exceptional service delivery, balanced with the key projects that will shape our future. The decisions we have made for this budget will build on our legacy of unrivalled liveability, as we continue to show the world just how special our region really is.
Our task, as a local government, is to provide the community’s essential services in an economically responsible manner. Reflecting the size and robust nature of our organisation, and indeed our region, our 2017/18 budget totals $475 million dollars.
This budget is a culmination of almost 12 months of carefully-considered decision making and I thank my fellow Councillors and our staff for their attention and courage in making decisions that are for the good of our region.
The liveability of our city and regional communities is our richest tradition and will always be our key priority. Council is focused on delivering on the lifestyle we know and love here in our region. Therefore, we have allocated $305 million of the budget spend on service delivery and operational expenditure, including the maintenance of existing infrastructure. This reflects our focus on delivering the services our community needs and wants through every stage of life, in line with Council’s corporate plan.
We are incredibly fortunate to live in this part of the world and this year we are investing $170 million in Infrastructure or Capital investment to ensure we continue to upgrade our assets and build capacity to deliver services of the highest possible standard.
As a community, we have always valued being able to gather in our city centre and this year’s budget sees the allocation of almost $3.2 million for the completion of the City Auditorium and a combined State and Local Government investment of $6.7 million – as the first instalment of $10 million for the rejuvenation of the Railway Goods Shed - which is the first step in the catalytic railway parklands development.
In the year ahead, our parks and recreation staff will maintain more than 560 parks and reserves across our diverse region. Our premier park in Toowoomba, Queens Park, receives $1.2 million toward the ongoing implementation of its Master Plan. Council will also fund the Second Stage of the Highfields Sport and Recreation Park to the tune of $3.9 million, with the support of the State Government.
Council operates 13 libraries across our region which, each year, loan more than 1.1 million items to our residents. In the year ahead, Council will work on the configuration and design of the new Highfields Library at a cost of $600,000 and we will continue to upgrade our regional libraries with Cecil Plains and Clifton the focus for 2017/18.
These are just some of the projects Council plans to deliver in the 2017/18 financial year:
- More than $42 million to enhance and maintain our parks and open space
- $7.3 million to library and cultural services
- $55 million towards the construction and ongoing maintenance of community services and facilities across the region
- $8.6 million to upgrade Mort Street from the Second Range Crossing to Jellicoe Streetand $4.6 million to upgrade Boundary Street from the crossing, to the Warrego Highway
- $6 million upgrade to Nass Road as part of the Toowoomba Enterprise Hub, supported by the State Government’s Building Our Regions program
- $125 million allocated toward local roads, footpaths and bikeways, and $7.3 million for stormwater drainage
- $2.9 million for sewerage infrastructure for the growing community of Highfields, as well as half a million for Meringandan West and just under half a million for Kingsthorpe and Gowrie Junction.
Our region is booming – thanks to significant external investment, and whilst this new regional infrastructure means more maintenance and related redevelopment work for Council, I am proud of what we have delivered in this budget, with a considered increase in rates.
The General Rate for the average urban property will increase by 3%. This increase delivers a prudent and balanced budget, with a net overall increase in rates and charges of 3.41%. This equates to just under $2 per week, again for the average urban property.
As a Council we are in an enviable position. The State Government’s independent banker, the Queensland Treasury Corporation continues to rate Council as being in a sound financial position with a neutral outlook.
We hold dear our reputation as one of Australia’s most liveable regions and this budget is a testament to Council’s commitment to maintaining that liveability.
Mayor Paul Antonio