Unprecedented Council budget for unprecedented times
A $100 COVID-19 rates rebate and a $138 million capital works budget are the centrepieces of an “unprecedented Council budget for unprecedented times”, Fraser Coast Mayor George Seymour said today.
Cr Seymour said the 2020/21 Fraser Coast Regional Council budget forecast a one-off operating deficit of $7 million.
“The economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have spread right throughout society and Council has not been immune,” he said.
“We’re tackling this financial challenge head on though, and will do everything we can to minimise the burden on residents while still investing in the quality services and infrastructure our growing community needs.”
Cr Seymour said Council was taking a $3 million hit to its revenue, providing $3 million in rates concessions and setting aside $1 million for further initiatives to help the Fraser Coast community through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Almost 30,000 people who live in their own homes will receive $100 off their July rates notice,” he said.
“Across the Fraser Coast, 664 regulated businesses have had their licences and permits extended for six months for free and we’re reserving $1 million for further economic stimulus measures as required throughout the financial year.
“Businesses and primary producers unable to pay rates or charges due to COVID-19 restrictions can also apply for financial hardship consideration, meaning debt recovery would be put on hold and no interest incurred for six months.”
Cr Seymour said State Government land valuations had increased on the Fraser Coast this year, which will mean some properties would experience increases in rates.
“We’re doing what we can to reduce the individual impacts of higher State Government land valuations through our $100 COVID-19 rates rebate, freezing the minimum rate and the rate in the dollar, and maintaining our rates capping policy,” he said.
“The individual impacts will vary but overall, about three quarters of ratepayers will pay the same general rates as last year or less.
“In addition, we’re extending the due date for our July rates notice by an extra month.”
Cr Seymour said Council was forecasting a total budget of $359 million in 2020/21 with $138 million allocated to capital works to “help create jobs and keep people in jobs”.
Key highlights of Council’s 2020/21 capital works budget include:
- $40.8 million for roads, bridges and drainage;
- $31.8 million for water, waste and sewerage;
- $8.1 million for parks, playgrounds and sporting fields;
- $2.6 million for footpaths and bikeways, and
- $2.5 million for libraries and cultural services.
“From pools to playgrounds, to footpaths, roads and better drainage, Fraser Coast residents will see changes that improve their local communities as a result of this budget,” Cr Seymour said.
“There are larger projects like a $3 million upgrade of Adelaide Street in Maryborough and $3.4 million for work on the Howard Sewage Treatment Plant, through to smaller projects such as $160,000 for two new dog off-leash parks and $100,000 for public toilets at Aldershot.
“It’s all about stimulating our local economy and maintaining the unique lifestyle we all love and enjoy here on the Fraser Coast.”
Cr Seymour said the budget also included a three per cent increase in water and wastewater charges to help pay for treatment plant upgrades.
“With the Fraser Coast’s current population of 110,000 people expected to grow to almost 150,000 by 2036, it’s important that Council continues to invest in new and improved water and sewerage treatment plants,” he said.
“The new and upgraded treatment plants will benefit both current and future generations so Council is looking to spread the financial cost through both current charges and borrowings in coming years.
“For the average property with average water use, the increased charges this year will mean about an extra 93 cents a week.”
More information about the Fraser Coast Regional Council budget is available on Council’s website at www.frasercoast.qld.gov.au/budget