By Jeremy Sollars
Southern Downs councillors have voted on the Draft Budget for 2020-2021 which is now out for public consultation and comment until Friday 12 June.
The Draft Budget was adopted at a special council meeting held earlier today, Friday 29 May.
The council has foreshadowed a zero rates increase for 2020-2021 – which Mayor Vic Pennisi says acknowledges the financial challenges faced by the community by COVID-19, and a split half-yearly rates bill.
Here’s the Mayor’s statement released late today, plus some of the key points from the Draft 2020-2021 budget and a link to the full budget package on the SDRC website…
“Like many others businesses, Council too has been affected by the COVID-19 global pandemic and it is apparent that 20/21 is going to be a tight year,” Cr Pennisi said.
“The Draft Budget forecasts a moderate operating surplus of $64k as well as a further reduction of Council’s debt by $1.6M.
“COVID-19 has been in the front of mind for Councillors whilst developing this budget, and in response Council is proposing that for the first 6 months of the new financial year ratepayers will receive a rate increase that equates to 0%.
“There are some mechanics behind doing this and in such Council will levy a 1.9% rate rise but then will apply a corresponding concession to balance that back to nil.
“This initiative will provide financial support to our residents through these trying times.
“Council will also be changing the way in which we levy the general rates and the utility rates.
“Previously these have been levied at different times of the year with the general rate all in advance at the start of the financial year and then two separate utility levies.
“We’ve listened to the feedback that this is somewhat confusing and messy for our ratepayers so we will be introducing the issuing of two half year levies for general rates and utility charges.
“Please note that the water consumption notices will still be issued separately as these charges are based on the amount of water a property uses.
“We recognise that our community has experienced a number of challenges over the past several years with a harsh and prolonged drought, the bushfires and now the COVID-19 pandemic.
“To help support Council will continue to offer a 7.5% discount on general rates and provide an extended discount period of 60 days for the half yearly rate notice.
“The Draft Budget has dedicated significant funds towards upgrading and renewing our water infrastructure as Council continues to develop long-term strategies for water security.
“This Budget sees the largest Capital Works Program in many years totalling $40.8M.
“Having said that the bucket is never big enough, so the information in the capital budget has been presented by way of priority.
“We will be seeking to reduce this figure slightly and we welcome your feedback on projects that are identified with orange or red traffic lights.
“At the time of preparing this Budget, we are mindful that there are a number of projects that Council has lodged funding applications for and these remain unannounced at this point in time.
“These projects have been separately identified in the capital expenditure budget and we eagerly await the outcome.”
KEY SPENDING PROPOSED FOR 2020-2021…
• $12.8m in Water & Sewerage projects
• $16.7m in Works projects
• $2.7m in Parks & Operations projects
• $5.3m in Waste projects
• Maryvale Town Centre Upgrades & Leyburn Streetscaping – $275k
• Warwick Saleyards effluent treatment plant for the truckwash – $650k
• Warwick recycled water main extension – $3.8m
• Stanthorpe waste transfer station – 750k
• Inveramsay Road widening – $600k
• Upper Forest Springs Road widening – $545k
• Construction of a new cell at the Warwick waste facility $3.1m
DETAILS OF HOW TO HAVE YOUR SAY ON THE DRAFT 2020-2021 COUNCIL BUDGET CAN BE FOUND AT – www.sdrc.qld.gov.au
FOR A LINK TO THE FULL BUDGET INFORMATION PACKAGE CLICK HERE –