Youtube Facebook Twitter Instagram
Find out about the 2022/23 Budget, including a rates summary and key major projects.
The increase in the general rate is 2.5%.
* Toowoomba bulk water supply - includes townships of Cabarlah, Crows Nest, Goombungee, Gowrie Junction, Hampton, Highfields, Hodgson Vale, Jondaryan, Kingsthorpe, Meringandan, Oakey, Toowoomba City, Westbrook & Wyreema.
** Regional potable water systems include the townships of Cambooya, Cecil Plains, Clifton, Greenmount, Kulpi, Millmerran, Nobby, Pittsworth (including Brookstead & Southbrook), Vale View & Yarraman.
Adoption of this budget includes the expectation of the progression of hundreds of projects. Here are a few highlights.
Road upgrades (small selection of projects listed below):
Footpath upgrades (small selection of projects listed below):
Resheet and reseal programs
Regional park upgrades (small selection of projects listed below)
People - $25.6 M
Place - $48 M
Sustainability - $217.8 M
Prosperity - $6.5 M
Performance - $61.9 M
Watch the live stream here.
My fellow Councillors, staff, ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to table Toowoomba Regional Council’s 2022-23 Budget and Operational Plan.
Our detailed forward schedule of capital works and operational programs has been carefully devised over the past year.
Inflationary conditions that are influencing the national and global economic environment are a reminder of the need for cautious and considered financial planning.
In the year following the worst effects of the Coronavirus pandemic, our Region has been severely disrupted by flood events that have also devastated many communities across large sections of South East Queensland and northern New South Wales.
We are working to complete emergency road repairs as quickly as possible in the wake of the four declared flood events in the past six months. The full restoration works will take at least two years to complete.
Council is also finalising a more detailed list of projects for which we are seeking Betterment funding from the Commonwealth and State Governments. The Betterment program specifically allows roads and other infrastructure to be built to a more flood resilient standard. This latest damage across our road and infrastructure network has an estimated repair bill of approximately $100 million.
Our emergency services personnel and State Emergency Services volunteers have worked tirelessly to answer community callouts in response to flood and storm damage. This mirrors the selfless work displayed by all health services workers during the pandemic and right to the current day. Our community can be proud of this ongoing effort and extremely thankful for their service.
Despite the uncertain global financial outlook, Council has managed to continue working in accordance with our long-term financial sustainability parameters to ensure we budget for essential capital works and services that support our communities in the coming year and long into the future.
Today’s Budget draws on the combined talents of Council’s Financial Services team in collaboration with all operational areas across Council. I thank my Council colleagues for their input over the past year that ensured we kept all our essential services open and functioning.
Our combined efforts have maintained the focus on delivering for our community. We understand how health restrictions, disruptions from natural disasters, plus rising cost pressures across all sectors are affecting business activity and investment, not to mention family household budgets.
Our 2022-23 Budget has been framed to tailor our services to meet residents’ needs. This work highlights what can be achieved by working together. In our role as community builders, I’m proud to announce that today Toowoomba Regional Council is unveiling a $519 million financial plan that will ensure we maintain and upgrade existing services and facilities while planning for a brighter future in one of Queensland’s most productive and attractive areas.
Council’s solid financial footing has allowed us to develop a $159 million capital program along with an operating Budget component of $360 million.
A capital allocation of $69.49 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.
Council has a legal and moral obligation to maintain its existing infrastructure and our ability to manage our $5.5 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, $66.53 million is set aside for upgrade projects, while $23.26 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 appreciate that every new asset comes with its own ongoing maintenance costs.
Council’s overall operational and capital expenditure parameters are based on our 10-year Long Term Financial Forecast (LTFF), which is not only adopted by Council, but overseen by the Department of Local Government, the Queensland Treasury Corporation and Queensland Audit Office.
The LTFF is a forecasting tool that Council uses to ensure set financial parameters are maintained in the short and long term, thereby ensuring ongoing financial sustainability.
Budget planning in line with our LTFF 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 eight successive years.
This is a measured and responsible rate rise, with a net overall increase in rates and charges of 2.35% for the average Toowoomba urban residential property.
This means that most residential ratepayers will have an increase of $81.28 a year, or $1.56 a week, after discount, which includes all rates and charges.
Today’s Budget is the result of consistent planning employed by Council over the past 13 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 2022-23 financial year, Council is budgeting for a forecast operating deficit of $5.8 million. 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 (2022-23 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:
Planning for water security and the Toowoomba Region’s future growth
Planning for long-term water security is imperative for our growing Region and our neighbouring local government areas.
Council is working with the Queensland Government on the Darling Downs Regional Water Assessment.
I look forward to understanding the details that will be contained in the final report that is designed to deliver water security to the study area (TRC, Southern Downs Regional Council, Goondiwindi Regional Council and part of Western Downs Regional Council), as well as underpin economic growth for this important agricultural area.
While our Region is in the fortunate position to have three full dams for our drinking water following record late summer rain, we must keep an eye on the future. Council is seeking State Government funding to upgrade our pumping capacity for the Wivenhoe pipeline, as well as moving the pump station above the Wivenhoe flood capacity level.
Supplying safe drinking water to all residents 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.
In addition to supplying residential water, we need a vison that includes nation-building infrastructure, including new dams, to offer certainty to investors and future generations. Critical inter-regional projects must include viable water supply options to support business and industry, particularly for major investments in large-scale horticultural operations that are planned at the Toowoomba Trade Gateway.
Our planning must harness more efficient water use and we must be extra vigilant with our water management. Viable water supply options will ensure we cater for growth and contribute to the state and national economies.
Preparing a new planning scheme
We’re anticipating around 55,000 new residents will live and work in our Region in the next 30 years.
We’re undertaking one of our most important strategic planning studies, Toowoomba Region Futures, to ensure our enviable lifestyle can be enjoyed by future generations.
We’re building a vision for the future that embraces opportunity and keeps what we love. The program will deliver a new Toowoomba Planning Scheme, an Infrastructure Plan, and a Growth Plan, which together will provide a roadmap for managing sustainable urban growth throughout the Region.
Residents still have until June 19 this week to help ‘Shape our Future’ by providing feedback on the draft Strategic Framework and two potential options for urban growth.
The Strategic Framework paints the big picture vision for future development in the Region. This is an important step in defining how our Region will grow and the type of communities that future generations will use and enjoy.
The Toowoomba Region’s Gross Regional Product of $11.7 billion grew by 4.2% in the period between 2020 and 2021.
This is mirrored by positive signs on the employment front based on Queensland Government figures. Our Region has a record 81,435 people in the labour force with our unemployment rate at 4.5%.
Our Region’s youth unemployment rate also dropped from a pandemic high of 27.2% (September 2020) to 10.4% at April this year.
Council is keen to continue working with all our economic and business organisations to ensure the benefits are shared across the Region.
Council is committed to working with our local suppliers. We proudly promote our Procurement Policy, which was enhanced at the start of the pandemic in 2020, and which continues to pay dividends. In the current financial year to May 2022, Council has spent $177 million with local suppliers. This equates to 64% of our total expenditure, with additional payments to be made in June.
In addition, our 14-day payment terms (from the date of invoice) further highlight the priority we place on keeping jobs and capital circulating in the Toowoomba economy.
City Deal progress – Railway Parklands, push for Fast Rail
I’m pleased to report there has been significant progress on key Council of Mayors South East Queensland (COMSEQ) projects, notably the SEQ City Deal and opportunities around the 2032 Olympics.
Following the March announcement of $25 million for the Toowoomba Railway Parklands project, Council will advance work on detailed design in the coming year.
Council’s vision is for an urban village, with a green heart to cater for a projected inner-urban population, as outlined in the City Centre Master Plan. The rest of the surrounding Priority Development Area (PDA) primarily will be developed by the private sector over the next 20 to 30 years, with the parklands acting as a catalyst for prospective investment by private and public groups.
To advance private sector development in this area and the wider Toowoomba CBD, Council continues to offer a total pool of $3 million ($1 million per eligible applicant) in incentives for new development via our Temporary Toowoomba CBD Development Incentives Policy.
The SEQ City Deal is a 20-year partnership between the Commonwealth Government, Queensland Government and COMSEQ, which provides a shared commitment to transform SEQ and deliver region-shaping infrastructure.
My Mayoral colleagues in the western corridor are committed to pressing the case for the Brisbane to Toowoomba Fast Rail. A new publicity campaign is about to start.
Toowoomba has significant potential as a pre-Games training destination across multiple sports in the years before the main events. We have experience of this before the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
The new Toowoomba Equine Centre of Excellence Development Plan will guide the upgrade of facilities at the Toowoomba Showgrounds. The Development Plan has the potential to deliver significant benefits to our Region for existing state and national competitions, in addition to any possible 2032 events.
The Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport has significant capability to serve as a secure entry point to Australia for international teams, particularly those requiring biosecurity clearance for horses.
External funding vital for our growing Region
We will continue to advocate for our fair share of funding to achieve our community goals and ambitions.
The reduction in our Financial Assistance Grant allocation will directly affect our capacity to deliver essential urban infrastructure or other services if we do not reverse this decision by the Queensland Local Government Grants Commission. We need more appropriate and equitable funding allocations from the higher levels of government to support our community-building plans. Council’s financial stability should not penalise us, particularly as we navigate an uncertain economic environment.
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 can not carry the full cost of providing essential infrastructure, in addition to meeting residents’ growing expectations across our other activities.
Council is determined to capitalise on its strong financial position. Our Region boasts unlimited prospects and an attractive lifestyle with leading health and education resources across 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 General Manager of Finance and Business Strategy Ann-Marie Johnston and Executive Manager for Business Transformation and Strategy David Quinlan for their concerted efforts during our Budget and Operational Plan preparations. Your assistance is greatly appreciated, along with the work of all staff.
I’m confident that our combined efforts will position the Toowoomba Region to become an even more popular destination of choice for families, business investors and tourists and allow future residents to seize opportunities for a positive future.
Catering for the needs of the community today while planning for future growth remains at the forefront of mind with Council committing $25.8 million towards capital projects for Environment and Community Services this financial year. As the population continues to grow, we know there will be a strong need for more sporting fields and community facilities which is why we’re in the early stages of developing the Toowoomba Regional Sports Precinct, located in Charlton. The sporting precinct will meet the growing demand for sport and recreation facilities and help attract state and national sporting events to our Region. It will provide a mix of high-quality fields and amenities for a variety of outdoor sporting activities and a district-level recreation park. While this is a long-term project that will need to be completed over multiple stages, in this financial year we’ve committed $700,000 to progress design development. Council will also allocate $3.17 million towards the replacement of the Rockville Park Clubhouse Amenities. This will see the current structure transformed into a modern facility which is able to meet the current and future demand of Rockville Park, including the emergence of women’s AFL within the Region. The Neil Street Bus Station toilet refurbishment will also be completed this financial year as part of Council’s commitment to providing safe and clean amenities throughout the Region. From the land to the water, Council will continue to progress its aquatic strategy with the $5.81 million replacement of the Millmerran pool. With work set for completion in the upcoming summer, the project will deliver a refurbished pool shell, all disabilities access ramps, toddler pools and a water treatment system. In Oakey we will be giving the showgrounds a much-needed facelift. $865,000 has been allocated to replace the pavilion and toilets while a new master plan has identified additional work will be required to ensure infrastructure will be in place to support the progressive development of the showgrounds for many years to come. Jointly funded with the Federal Government, further funding will be invested on the renovations to refurbish the Soldiers’ Memorial Hall. This work includes re-roofing at the rear of the building, renovation to all areas of the original hall, amenities, kitchen and bar upgrades, addition of a lift and reconstruction of the staircase to the original design. As part of our future planning, $540,000 has been allocated to the investigation of design options to facilitate the construction of a new administration centre to accommodate Council services for the Toowoomba Region. The new building will be within the existing Civic Precinct and will provide a modern and flexible work environment to cater for Council’s CBD-based workforce and help to better support the community. Council’s existing CBD offices are not fit-for-purpose and do not support a modern workforce. This new building will unite our CBD-based workforce who are currently located at several separate Council-owned and leased assets. This supported workplace will significantly improve how Council serves our community. The project will deliver a better-connected Civic Precinct, which will integrate with the existing Toowoomba City Library, Toowoomba City Hall, Soldiers’ Memorial Hall, and the Civic Square. Once again, the Community Grants program will deliver valuable resources to our residents with $750,000 made available across two rounds of funding for the nine programs. Round One will open in July with community groups encouraged to apply. Council is committed to providing all areas throughout the Region with adequate facilities to support our ever-changing lifestyle as we strive to make the Toowoomba Region a destination of choice for visitors and a vibrant home for our residents.
The much-anticipated opening of the Highfields library, customer service area and community meeting rooms will take place this year. Highfields is one of our fastest growing communities and it’s vital we have the necessary infrastructure in place to meet the needs of our residents. The new facility will replace the existing library which is supporting more than 1000 visitors a week. In the new facility we will also have space for a customer service area in addition to community rooms which will be available for use by members of the public. As part of this project we’ve also upgraded the road network as we progress work on the Central Highfields Master Plan which will offer a wide range of goods and services to cater for the anticipated growth and changing needs within the community. Based on the high usage numbers we’ve seen since the Toowoomba Library was redeveloped, there is no doubt there is a cultural need for facilities of this nature in the Toowoomba Region. Just as important, is our art collection which is why we’ve allocated a further $34,000 in this year’s Budget to acquire artworks in line with Council's Toowoomba Region Art Collection Guideline. This is an increase on previous funding as Council seeks to maintain and develop a permanent collection of high quality, original artworks for the cultural enrichment of our community. From culture to our environment, Council will continue to upgrade and improve our parks and gardens throughout the Region, keeping up our tradition of being known as the Garden City. Emmerson Park in Centenary Heights will be given a $1.713 million upgrade with works on this project to include new toilet amenities, new play and fitness equipment and the installation of pathways and landscaping throughout the park. Further across the city Carly Hibberd Park in Kearneys Spring will undergo the second stage of its masterplan development. Works scheduled for this stage include the construction of an amenities building, the installation of play areas, footpaths, landscaping and the planning for the final stage of the masterplan in 2023/24. Other parks throughout the Region set for upgrades include final works at Thiess Park and Lake Annand Park. Preliminary design works will also commence in Clara May Smythe Park in Highfields and Lucy Street Park in Cambooya, ahead of programmed construction work in 2024/25. The Toowoomba Escarpment Parks Upgrade is also in the final year of its Master Plan implementation with $1.567 million allocated to complete the project. There is no doubt our escarpment is a major drawcard for visitors and this funding will ensure there are modern facilities at different points along the escarpment for those who stop by to see our beautiful part of the world. As well as upgrading parks and amenities, Council continues to upgrade its facilities to ensure there is safer access for residents. Rockville Park clubhouse amenities will be completely replaced and upgraded with work on the new clubhouse scheduled to commence in September 2022. Detailed design for a new new car park will progress at Nell E Robinson Park to ensure the heavy burden of on-street car parking throughout the neighbourhood is reduced during peak sporting periods. Construction is programmed to occur in the 2024/25 financial year, subject to funding. In Pittsworth we’ll be making improvements to the Skate Park to provide a safe park entry and pedestrian zone. Construction works for this include bollards, a picnic setting and shade structure over the play area. Our trails network is also incredibly important throughout the Region and popular both to residents and visitors alike. To enhance access and useability, Council will be investing $128,000 towards finalising improvement works to the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail, between Yarraman and Nukku. Works include improvements to the Cooyar Creek causeway, creek crossings switchbacks, rest stop provision and the provision of a toilet at Harland Park. With so much rain over the past year we also need to be conscious of increased vegetation and fire risk which means it’s important that Council continues to improve its fire management network. Council has allocated $200,000 to continue ongoing upgrades to the existing fire management access from Amos Road to Harvey Street. Funding of $130,000 has also been allocated to progress the installation of a new primary firebreak network to Flagstone Creek Park. In addition to this, compliance programs, such as the Animal Inspection Program and Food Licensing, will continue as we strive to be a more safe and healthy Region. I truly believe the Toowoomba Region is one of the most beautiful, family-friendly places throughout Australia and am proud to call this my home. With the funding commitments we’ve made this year I’m confident we will continue to maintain and enhance our Region’s liveability.
We enter the 2022/23 financial year following two years of a global pandemic and having experienced four significant rain events in the past year. Navigating this period has been extremely difficult, not just for Council, but for our entire community. We understand the cost of living and the cost of doing business has increased significantly in the past year. Our community is feeling the impact of this which is why we’ve listened and will be implementing a modest rate increase of 2.5% this financial year. While this is well below CPI, we believe a 2.5% increase will allow us to maintain critical service delivery for our residents, while being mindful of the increases to living expenses such as fuel, groceries and energy prices. This is a measured and responsible rate rise, with a net overall increase in rates and charges of 2.35% for the average Toowoomba urban residential property. This means that most Toowoomba residential ratepayers will have an annual increase of $81.28, or $1.56 a week, after discount, which includes all rates and charges, including water and wastewater charges. With our community feeling the pinch, we’re prepared to do what’s necessary to help them through this difficult period, even though this sees us forecasting a $5.8 million deficit. While we would prefer not to be forecasting a deficit, we’re comfortable we can do this due to our strong financial stewardship. Disciplined planning has allowed Council to deliver a consistent average general rate increase for the past eight years. It should be noted this is only a forecast deficit and could change if we’re able to receive additional government funding. Late last year the Financial Assistance Grant program was restructured, with our Region set to see a reduction of almost $8 million in operational funding over the next three years. With the way the program has been restructured, and a prepayment this financial year, we will likely have a larger than expected surplus in 2021/22, however this will likely result in a $5.8 million deficit in the 2022/23 which is directly correlated to the reduction of grants we’ll be receiving. Without the reduction from this funding stream there likely wouldn’t be a deficit which is why we need to continue advocating for more funding for our Region. We simply can’t continue asking more from our residents when they’re already dealing with the increased cost of living so we’ll be fighting hard for funding from both the State and Federal Governments. This year marks the first time as an organisation that we’ve developed a Capital Budget with a three year forecast rather than as an individual year. This approach aims to improve our deliverability and reduce annual carry-overs. At the top of the list, residents can expect to see a major focus on flood recovery works and water security in the coming years. Repeated rain events have seen our road network ravaged and as such, it’s imperative we get out there as quickly as we can to repair the damage that has occurred. This will be a huge undertaking for the next two years. In the coming years we’ll also be investing significantly into major water infrastructure projects with the upgrade to Mount Kynoch Water Treatment Plant and the business case for the dam safety upgrades taking place this financial year. We know the dam safety upgrades and new water treatment plant will require considerable capital over many years which is why we’re being so measured with our financial approach this year. We acknowledge the treatment and delivery of water is expensive however there is a lot of work that goes into ensuring all residents have access to a safe and reliable water source. Being located at the top of a mountain also makes our situation more challenging however we’re fortunate our dams are now full which reduces the need to pump water from Wivenhoe. As an organisation we’ve undertaken a review on our water pricing structure. As part of the independent review it was found that Council’s current water charge structure is sound and generally consistent with regulatory guidance and best practice.
However, the review did identify opportunities to tidy up some inconsistencies in water pricing across our water schemes to provide a consistent pricing signal regarding the need for efficient water use and water conservation across the Region and this will be addressed during the next three years. In addition to this, we’ll continue with the Queensland Treasury Corporation’s recommended three year price path for water rates with 2022/23 being the second year. What this means is that the average rate for residents connected to the Toowoomba Bulk Water Supply will receive a 2.1% increase and those not connected to this system will receive a 5.98% increase. To assist our community with this payment, the pensioner rebate applied against the water infrastructure charge has been doubled from $35 per annum to $70 to help pensioners with the cost of the water charges. Overall, Council’s Budget for the 2022/23 financial year is $519 million, made up of $159 million in capital projects and $360 million operational. As part of the capital projects, $23.26 million has been allocated towards new projects, $66.53 million on upgrades and $69.49 million on renewals. One of our key long-term financial measures is the Asset Sustainability Ratio which is the annual spend on capital renewal projects as a percentage of the depreciation value. Council has set a 70% or greater target while the State Department for Local Government has set a target of greater than 90%. Our Asset Sustainability Ratio is forecast as 62.4% for 2022/23 which is a good result. At a time when we’re currently experiencing unprecedented supply chain delays, a significant rise in the price of materials and challenges from rain events and COVID-19, our community should feel reassured their local government authority is in a strong financial position that can weather the storm.
This is a mature and sensible budget which looks after the needs of our community and ensures Council’s long term financial forecast isn’t impacted in a negative way.
If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s the need to be flexible and adaptable to the world around us. Things have changed significantly in that time and it’s vital we continue to adapt and respond accordingly. Over the past two years we’ve needed our workforce to work remotely, to respond to new obstacles and to come up with creative solutions to meet the needs of our community. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has been at the core of this work and to ensure we’re able to continue serving our residents, we’ll be investing further in this space in the coming financial year. $982,000 will be spent on Council’s ICT equipment replacement program with a focus on converting from desktop computers to laptops at the end of their life cycle to make us more flexible and mobile. This ongoing investment will enable us to be more effective and efficient when delivering services to our residents. As well as investing in our equipment replacement program, we’ll be upgrading a number of our programs to improve business processes. In this Budget $225,000 will be spent on the Infor Pathway UX Project to support a number of critical services. Council’s Pathway system will be moved to a web-based version of Pathway which will benefit the organisation by providing improved mobility, usage options, and increased user satisfaction. This program will implement enhancements and developments on Council’s systems. Council has also committed operational funding of $1.75 million for the TechnologyOne Upgrade as well as $50,000 for eDocs DM Upgrades. These systems are essential for staff to allow us to respond to the requirements of our residents. With technology playing such an important role in our organisation, community and society, we also need to ensure we’re doing everything possible to protect our data. As with many organisations around the world, cyber security is one of the biggest risks facing our Council. ICT security has become an increasingly complex and costly discipline to manage within organisations. Council will continue to bolster its cyber security capabilities in moving to deliver a high level of protection for Council’s information systems and assets. Council has committed $250,000 for this project to deliver cyber security initiatives throughout the organisation. While it’s crucial we protect our systems and assets, it’s equally as important we continue to deliver news and information to our residents. Our community is spread throughout the Region and has different ways for how they would like to receive information from Council. As such, we’re committed to tailoring our message and the delivery of this message to ensure all residents remain well-informed. To do this we’ll continue to distribute Council’s BOLD magazine to all households throughout the Region, as well as using our website, our social media channels, local news outlets and various methods to deliver timely and accurate updates to our residents. In addition to this, our staff continue to make themselves available at our Customer Service Centres for any questions residents may have. This can be done by visiting one of the offices in person, making a call to our friendly team or by contacting us online. Our staff are here to assist residents with their day-to-day requests. As Chair of the Bridge Street Quarry Development Advisory Committee I’m pleased to see Council’s ongoing commitment to the necessary planning for preparatory rehabilitation work to be advanced. Our community continues to grow and mature and it’s up to Council to facilitate this growth. I’m confident this Budget allows us to do this and puts us good stead for future years to continue meeting the needs of our residents.
Council will invest in major projects and the continued renewal of our Region’s assets in 2022/23. These essential projects are the key to ensuring our community remains resilient (particularly from recent wet weather events) and prospers into the future.
As well as COVID-19, the Toowoomba Region has experienced fires and floods in recent times. These events have placed enormous social, emotional and financial pressure on our community and will continue to do so as we recover from the impacts these events have brought upon us.
Council looks after more than 6,500 kilometres of sealed and unsealed roads, more than 85 roundabouts and over 700 kilometres of footpaths and cycleways. Every time we leave home, we journey along a local road.
With this in mind, Council has made a commitment to road improvements and safety across the Region, investing $50.7 million on our road and drainage Capital Budget, $15.8 million in fleet and logistics and a continuation of operational spend.
$2 million has been allocated to start the upgrade of the unsealed section of Nukku Road (north of Crows Nest), which links Blackbutt.
$1.8 million will be invested to complete an upgrade to the Dalby-Nungil Road at Irvingdale through the Australian Government’s Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program on a 4km section of the road on TRC’s boundary. Taking it from a single lane seal to a two-lane sealed road.
$1.5 million has been allocated to rehabilitate the pavement and surface of Greenmount-Etonvale Road at Greenmount and a further $1 million has been committed for the rehabilitation of Nangwee Road, Nangwee. Jeffries Road at Norwin will benefit from a rehabilitation and resurface project at a cost of $1.5 million.
Clifton Road at Clifton will be resurfaced with $700,000 allocated this year.
Many roads are key freight routes in our Region and this investment will create jobs and strengthen the economic growth of our Region’s key agricultural industries complimenting the network as it continues in our neighbouring Council areas.
Agriculture is the backbone of the Toowoomba Region and Council focusses on strengthening our rural communities. These projects are vital in the economic success of our agricultural sector and will enhance productivity for our rural residents and improve overall road safety in these areas for all road users.
Council has committed $800,000 to begin the upgrade of Highfields, O’Brien and Kratzke Road intersection. Recognising traffic flows will continue to increase in Highfields. This is a multi-year project and it is expected construction will begin later this year (2022/23).
A major focus of this year’s infrastructure budget is on safety with some major Toowoomba intersections set to be upgraded with the Federal Government’s Blackspot funding. There are high volumes of accidents at these intersections.
The Margaret and MacKenzie Street intersection will receive $1.25 million. A new roundabout for the Perth and Curzon intersection will receive $1.025 million. The Bridge and Hume intersection will receive $925,000. These upgrades include traffic signals, line marking and configuration improving safety for motorists.
An upgrade to Pierces Creek Road at Emu Creek in the north will start this financial year with $400,000 allocated for safety improvements through Blackspot and Old Goombungee Road at Birnam upgraded ($400,000).
As part of our asset renewal, Council has committed $25 million to rehabilitating and resealing our sealed road network, gravel resheeting and renewing asphalt surfaces across the Toowoomba Region.
This significant spend, which underlines our commitment to maintaining and improving the road network, especially in regional areas. I have advocated for this every year since being elected to Council. It’s vital that residents in our Region have a reasonable level of access to the road network, regardless of where they live.
As part of the revitalisation of Toowoomba’s City Centre, $1.7 million has been allocated to complete the Urban Renewal Project as part of the Russell Street precinct; which is a much valued part of our city’s heritage and cultural landscape.
As Infrastructure Services Committee Chair, I acknowledge Infrastructure Services Portfolio Leader, Cr Melissa Taylor and my fellow Councillors.
I would further acknowledge the valued work of the entire organisation, with special thanks to Infrastructure Services Group General Manager Mike Brady and Council’s entire ISG team.
These are particularly challenging times for Council and our staff teams. While there is much work to be done, rest assured we stand beside our communities. We look forward to delivering our infrastructure budget, supporting local businesses and growing our Region.
Our Region is vibrant and dynamic and continues to flourish and grow despite the economic and social challenges that have continued in 2022. As Toowoomba further bridges the divide between being a big country town and regional city, it’s vital Council delivers infrastructure that will keep pace with the growth of our Region as it moves towards a new era.
Investing in key infrastructure and assets now, means we can plan for future growth and sustain the lifestyle and culture we hold so dear for generations to come.
In 2022/23, Council will continue to invest in parking options for the Region to meet the current and future needs of motorists. In line with the Toowoomba City Centre Parking Strategy, we’ll invest $1 million implementing the Smart Parking Project across the Toowoomba CBD parking precinct, going live in July and enabling Council to better manage parking needs.
Smart technology will allow motorists to plan trips more efficiently, which will improve traffic flow and reduce congestion in the CBD. Throughout the CBD, Council will also progress the development of concept and design plans to improve the pedestrian and cycle facilities in the City Centre.
As the Region grows, we have a responsibility to facilitate safer, more reliable and user-friendly public and active transport. Council continues to explore active transport options that help reduce car trips in and around the city centre.
Providing an efficient and serviceable public transport network is important for any growing city. That’s why we’ve committed $400,000 to our region wide Bus Stop Renewal Program to meet compliance with disability standards, as per Australian Government legislation. At least 10 bus stops are programmed to be upgraded as part of the 2022/23 financial year.
Footpaths are the foundation of any active transport network and ensuring residents are able to move easily throughout the Region will be an ongoing focus for Council. We’ll invest almost $2 million this year constructing and planning for new footpaths as well as maintenance through our Footpath Renewal Program. This program aims to upgrade footpaths across the Region to current standards to improve amenity and maintain functionality. Many of these paths are in regional towns right across the Region.
This financial year we will also deliver new footpaths, including in Westbrook on Barwicks Street at a total cost of $250,000. $200,000 has also been allocated for a new footpath at Kingsthorpe on Gowrie Street as a priority project under TRC’s footpath development plan. $100,000 has also been committed to the delivery of a footpath at Millmerran on Campbell Street between Margaret and Mary Streets and Streets and the same amount for a new footpath on Toomey Street in Yarraman. $100,000 has also been committed to a new footpath on Greenwattle Street Glenvale while Clark Street at Clifton will benefit from a $90,000 investment on a new footpath. While footpaths in Bowenville, Cambooya, Oakey, Nobby, Pittsworth and Crows Nest will be planned for during this financial year.
Whether for fun, fitness or as a means of active transport, riding a bike is a great way to get around. That’s why Council has committed $590,000 in funding to improve and upgrade elements of the Region’s cycleway network. This includes a commitment of $300,000 to upgrade the Alderley Street Cycleway and Pedestrian Bridge at West Creek in Toowoomba with construction expected to commence later this year.
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 Infrastructure Committee Chair Councillor Carol Taylor has advocated for over many years and I’m happy to join her on this journey.
I would like to acknowledge Cr Carol Taylor and all my fellow Councillors with special thanks to Infrastructure Services Group General Manager Mike Brady and his team.
Residents choose to live in the Toowoomba Region for its unparalleled lifestyle. It’s vital Council meets the needs of the community and provides residents with essential services and facilities so ours remains a liveable, modern and attractive Region for visitors and residents alike.
In this Budget we’ve carefully balanced the needs of all the areas throughout the Toowoomba Region, as we strive to make it an even better place for our community.
Council is continuing with a multi-year project, Toowoomba Region Futures, to create a shared vision for how our Region will develop in the next 30 years.
The liveability of our city and regional communities will always be Council’s key priority, in line with our vision of being a vibrant, inclusive and liveable Region. There are significant opportunities for the Region, especially through recently delivered and planned investment in major infrastructure.
Our Region is also facing many challenges including managing growth, affordable housing and urban infrastructure, and climate change. Toowoomba Region Futures will provide the roadmap to navigate change and realise opportunities, ensuring that new development and private investment makes a positive contribution to our future.
In 2021-22 Council completed 15 strategic studies, as well as the draft regional growth plan and draft Strategic Framework for the planning scheme. We also undertook extensive community and stakeholder engagement through Greening Toowoomba, Talking Towns and Shaping Our Future – Strategic Framework and Growth Plan. Council will consider feedback received in finalising the regional growth plan in September 2022. Based on community feedback about the strategic framework we will continue to draft the new planning scheme, including standards for new development.
Council manages growth sustainably and responsibly and is actively planning for the future through the new Growth Plan. The outcomes of the growth plan will also inform development of the Toowoomba Region Infrastructure Plan to provide a cost-effective and efficient approach to urban infrastructure provision including expansion in new areas.
We’re expecting around 55,000 new residents in our Region in the next 30 years, and Toowoomba Region Futures is our plan to ensure our enviable lifestyle is there to enjoy for generations to come.
Our six priorities for planning our Region’s future are responding to changing climate, green Region, transport choice, housing choice, healthy communities, and economic growth and diversity.
It is important that our housing is in a form that meets the needs of our local people, in a location with easy access to jobs and services and that is affordable.
Housing supply and housing choice: Council has a comprehensive approach to addressing housing matters. In addition to reviewing housing policy settings in drafting the new planning scheme, Council will consider measures to stimulate housing choice and supply in existing urban areas, particularly in the shorter term.
These incentives will be presented to this month’s Council meetings for recommendation and adoption. Council also is advocating with the State Government for social housing assistance in Toowoomba as part of the announced $1 billion fund.
Key outcomes for new Planning Scheme: Council aims to achieve three key outcomes for a liveable community in the new planning scheme. These include increasing residential densities in Toowoomba City and Highfields (and to a lesser extent the rural towns). This will offer a more cost-effective approach to infrastructure provision to reduce the need to extend expensive urban trunk infrastructure to new areas. Creating greater choice in housing will respond to changing demographics while maintaining social and community links. Our lifestyle attributes will be enhanced by creating neighbourhoods where residents can walk or cycle to work, shops, school, services and parks. This will be balanced with protecting our rural landscapes, natural environment and cultural heritage.
Our planning strategies will provide clear planning policies and direction for residents and the development industry. Key elements of the Toowoomba Region Futures project include:
Council will continue to develop other key strategic projects that influence and contribute to our liveability. These include:
Design specialists help refine plans
Council is continuing to use its design specialists across the organisation and within the Planning and Development Group to promote excellence in architecture and urban design, heritage conservation and landscape architecture with both internal and external stakeholders.
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. The Regional Architecture and Heritage Office has focused on providing early consultation, prior to lodgement of a development application, to enable residents to make more informed responses to Planning Scheme requirements. This has supported a more fluid application process.
The regional Heritage Advisory Committee (HAC) will meet at least four times per year to offer advice and information to Council in relation to heritage issues.
The Regional Architecture and Heritage Services branch (RAHB) has been very involved in the work being completed as part of the Planning Scheme review.
We will look to increase advocacy in relation to good building design in line with the newly endorsed Toowoomba Region Design – Warm Temperate Climate Building Design Guidelines.
The Toowoomba Region’s climate is changing, and climate responsive building design is essential to the liveability of our Region for our growing community.
The Building Certification team, Total Range Certification, continues to provide a quality certification service for people and businesses constructing commercial buildings and dwellings.
The Development Services Branch continues to look for and implement opportunities to streamline development assessment timeframes.
We’re continuing with our extensive work under the Toowoomba Region Futures banner to build a community vision for our Region’s growth and development over the next 30 years.
Council in the coming year will update the Local Government Infrastructure Plan (LGIP) – Interim Amendment. The interim amendment will ensure that our plans for truck infrastructure remain current and in line with anticipated growth in coming years. It will ensure that we continue to provide for efficient and cost-effective urban infrastructure. At the same time, we will be comprehensively updating our urban infrastructure plans in line with projected growth as part of the Toowoomba Region Infrastructure Plan (TRIP). This recognises its important role in ensuring our Region remains an attractive lifestyle destination and that the infrastructure required to service growth is both affordable and facilitates economic development.
The TRIP will include a 10-15-year plan to service our growing communities with essential infrastructure. This means:
The TRIP is part of the Planning Scheme that incorporates development infrastructure to cater for our growing community in a way that is sustainable and affordable.
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 and orderly manner. This offers certainty to communities on the future of our Region.
We know our Region will continue to grow and our planning is a sensible and vital step that enables Council to understand the cost of servicing growth.
For the development industry, it provides transparency around Council’s provision of trunk infrastructure and allows Council to impose conditions relating to necessary trunk infrastructure on development approvals. Charges collected for infrastructure will help cover the cost of servicing new growth areas.
This is an equitable way of planning and charging for new infrastructure that services our growth areas. The TRIP is the critical ingredient for responsibly delivering urban development in accordance with the Toowoomba Region Planning Scheme.
Without properly coordinated infrastructure roll-out we cannot have ongoing urban development.
Council will continue to develop other key economic development projects that influence and contribute to our liveability. These include:
This month, Council is considering a range of residential assistance measures. We will undertake actions to support the housing supply pipeline and housing choice through:
Water is the Toowoomba Region’s most precious resource. In Council’s 2022-23 Budget almost $53 million has been committed to water and wastewater capital projects.
We’ve focused on the importance of asset management, future growth, and renewing ageing infrastructure that delivers an urban water supply to tens of thousands of residents every day.
A key investment this financial year will be $21.5 million for a staged upgrade of the Mt Kynoch Water Treatment Plant to increase capacity from 55 megalitres per day to 65 megalitres per day. While increasing capacity, these major upgrade works will also extend the life of the current Mt Kynoch plant by more than 10 years. The upgrades will also complement the work that will get underway to plan for a future treatment plant for the Toowoomba Region to cater for expected growth.
We’ve allocated more than $8 million to kick off upgrades for dam safety at both Cressbrook and Cooby Dams. The dams will each receive $4 million this financial year to begin an expression of interest process for safety upgrades to ensure compliance with Acceptable Flood Capacity. The EOI process will be for the design and construction of the upgrades to meet current standards to ensure flood resilience and safety into the future.
We’ve committed $3.5 million to the Highfields trunk water mains project to install vital trunk infrastructure on Cawdor and Kratzke Roads to cater for population growth in Meringandan and the Highfields area.
Upgrades to Cambooya’s gravity mains infrastructure will also happen this year with Stage 2 works totalling $300,000. This important project will be staged over 5 years to upgrade 13km of mains pipe for Cambooya. Additional trunk mains are planned for Pittsworth at Mt Mallard to provide redundancy and maintain service standards in the town with $200,000 allocated for that project, while 1.8km of the Gowrie Creek Trunk Sewer will be upgraded with an allocation of $300,000. Upgrades to extend sewer infrastructure will also happen with $250,000 allocated for Carrington Road to Toowoomba reticulation, $500,000 for the Torrington sewer program and $56,000 allocated for planning leading into the design and construction for improvements to the Highfields and Wyreema sewer reticulations.
As part of upgrading existing assets, Council will continue to invest in its wastewater treatment plants. In Clifton, we’ve committed $1.5 million to start the design phase to upgrade the Clifton Wastewater Treatment Plant. Commissioned in the 1970s, the plant requires a substantial upgrade to meet current regulatory and environmental requirements. An improved treatment plant will provide a valuable resource for the local agricultural industry by making available fit-for-purpose recycled water to grow fodder crops at a nearby Council-owned site.
Water is a limited resource and Council’s focused on refining its conservation practices. This year, Council will allocate more than $5.5 million to progress 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 across our water network.
We’ve committed more than $2.1 million to undertake vital renewal works to replace the Perseverance Raw Water Main. This 28km length main runs from Pechey Reservoir to Mt Kynoch Water Treatment plant and is vital to Toowoomba’s water supply. The current pipe will be replaced to increase capacity in line with the Mt Kynoch Treatment Plant upgrades. This is all part of securing the Region’s future water supply.
$11.7 million invested in capital projects for Waste
Waste management is one of Council’s core essential services, playing a huge role in our community, public health, and environmental outcomes.
We all generate waste and as our population continues to grow so does the amount of waste our Region produces, increasing the costs of operating landfills and presenting more challenges in identifying long term, sustainable waste solutions to minimise negative impacts on our environment.
As we move towards a bigger and better Toowoomba Region, we need to find new opportunities for innovative ways to use our resources, reduce landfill and optimise service levels for our community members.
It’s crucial we find the right balance between delivering new, essential waste infrastructure while managing the costs of ongoing maintenance and replacement of existing assets.
In this Budget Council has placed a significant focus on waste infrastructure, investing $11.7 million in waste capital projects.
We’ll invest $3 million to start the upgrade of the Greenmount Waste Management Facility. The project will greatly enhance the operations and better serve the Greenmount community, while providing new opportunities to maximise diversion from landfill. Similarly, a further $1.8 million has been allocated to finish the Yarraman Waste Management Facility upgrade this year with some works started last financial year.
A major focus of the waste budget this year will include the design and start of construction of a new Materials Recovery Facility with $2.5 million committed for this project. Residents across the Region who recycle will be well served by this facility and the ability to create a local circular economy for recyclable materials.
This financial year, we’ll also continue to progress work on delivering Council’s Waste Management Strategy, investing a further $3.5 million for Stage 2 of the Toowoomba Waste Management Centre (TWMC) vertical expansion.
While the entire landfill footprint at this site has decades of capacity, this individual cell will soon reach capacity and a new cell is required to continue the acceptance of waste at the site. We’ve committed funding to undertake detailed design work and to purchase liner materials with the commissioning of the cell expected in 2022/23.
This financial year, Council will complete more works on the landfill gas utilisation project at TWMC to generate power for the Wetalla Wastewater Treatment Plant.
This is a progressive and exciting project which will use landfill gas to generate energy to offset about 60 per cent of the power consumption at Wetalla, as well as generate electricity to power the state’s electricity grid.
Landfills are considerable emitters of greenhouse gas and this type of re-use project will help to significantly reduce the emissions and provide a return to Council by reducing costs associated with operating Wetalla.
The project will deliver income through royalty payments to Council from the sale of electricity and carbon abatement programs. We estimate the site will produce around 600mᵌ of gas per hour, which is sufficient to run a 1MW generator. $220,000 has been committed in this budget for the installation of electrical infrastructure to enable acceptance of power generated by the landfill gas project.
$470,000 has also been committed to install a weighbridge at Clifton Waste Management Facility to comply with Queensland Government regulations associated with the State’s waste levy. A further $375,000 has been allocated for the installation of a weighbridge at the Goombungee Waste Management Facility for the same purpose.