‘Zero rates rise’ for first six months: Council

The Southern Downs Regional Council says it has “effectively delivered a zero per cent rate rise until the end of 2020 to support the community and regional economy throughout the COVID-19 pandemic”.

Councillors voted through the 2020-2021 budget at a special council meeting held at the Warwick Town Hall earlier today, Wednesday 22 July.

In a statement a council spokeswoman said an “actual rise of 1.9%, the lowest in more than a decade, will be offset by a ‘COVID-19 Concession’ of 1.9%, which when applied at the time of billing on the rates notice equates to no cost increase to rate payers for the next six months”.

The rates position will be reviewed prior to the issuing of the second round of half-yearly rates notices in six months’ time.

The first round of rates and utility notices for this financial year will be issued in August.

Mayor Vic Pennisi said the 2020/21 Annual Budget focused “on steering the region through the COVID-19 recovery and the concession would provide some immediate financial respite to rate payers”.

“There is no doubt that our region has felt the effects of COVID-19,” Cr Pennisi said today.

“In 2020/21, Council has delivered a fiscally responsible budget that accounts for both our recovery and our future.

“Offering a concession against the rate rise for the first six-months of the 2020/21 financial year provides our rate payers with much needed financial assistance as we recover from the crippling effects of COVID-19.

“We want to reassure residents that we are listening and are in their corner with them during this unprecedented time.

“In addition to the rate concession, Council has revised the billing process.

“From 2020/21, rates and utilities notices will be issued together in two six-monthly instalments.

“Residents will still have the option to pay their yearly rates in full if they choose, however this billing change will give them the option to pay smaller twice-yearly payments.

“The 7.5% early payment discount period of 60 days remains.”

‘TOWNS AND VILLAGES’…

The council says “developing towns and villages throughout the region has been made a priority within the newly adopted 2020/21 Budget”.

“The 2020/21 Budget includes a number of projects aimed at adding new or upgrading existing infrastructure within towns and villages, as well as projects targeting liveability,” the spokeswoman said.

“Some of the key projects listed in the 2020/21 Budget include:

• $145k Maryvale Town Centre Upgrades

• $125k Leyburn Town Centre Upgrades & Sprints precinct

• $254k Allora Water Reservoir Roof Replacement

• $33k Dalveen Bores Rehabilitation

• $235k Dalveen Reservoir Refurbishment

• $747k Freestone Road works

• $360k Allora roadworks

Councillor for Communities, Towns and Villages Sheryl Windle said the region’s communities “are an incredibly valuable part of our region which is why these investments are so worthwhile”.

“Our region has many smaller towns and villages that contribute greatly to our unique feel and identity” Cr Windle said.

“By ensuring these communities receive the appropriate upgrades and new infrastructure, Council can help maintain the already fantastic liveability of these areas.

“Council receives a large amount of feedback from residents regarding future works in the region and staff work hard to listen and implement the most effective projects.”

CAPITAL WORKS…

Mayor Pennisi said councillors had today approved “a fiscally responsible and community minded Capital Works Program of $42.18 million”.

“Works and upgrades topped the program with an allocation of $16.9m while water security remains a budget priority with a spend of $14.1m,” Cr Pennisi said.

“Even in times of economic recovery, Council will continue to invest in the region for a sustainable future,” he said.

“Amid the current challenges and recovery efforts, Council will continue to maintain and deliver infrastructure and services that our community expects and deserves.

“The 2020/21 Budget is responsible and realistic in allocating funds towards key infrastructure projects that build a prosperous and sustainable future for our region.

“Council is conscious that investing in our infrastructure enhances the region’s liveability and attracts business and industry to the area.

Key capital spending…

• $16.9m Works

• $14.1m Water and Sewerage

• $6.5m Waste Management

• $2.5m Parks and Operations

• $2.2m Other ‘general projects’

Capital project highlights:

• $435k WIRAC Group Fitness Room

• $250k New Rose City FM Building

• $275k Maryvale & Leyburn Town Centres Upgrades

• $4.4m Warwick Recycled Water Main Extension

• $2.5m Upgraded Stanthorpe Waste Transfer Station

• $3.1m New Warwick Landfill Cell

• $650k Warwick Saleyards Recycled Water Treatment Plant For The Truck Wash

• $600k Inverramsay Road Widening

• $320k Upper Forest Springs Road Widening

• $254k Allora Water Reservoir Roof Replacement

• $747k Freestone Roadworks

• $235k Dalveen Reservoir Refurbishment

The Free Times will be drilling down into the budget in more detail this week – keep an eye on our website for more…

• In the meantime to view the full budget documents click on this link –

https://southerndowns.infocouncil.biz/Open/2020/07/CO_22072020_AGN_480_AT_EXTRA.PDF

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