Thursday, June 27, 2024


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Council Delivers Cost-of-Living Relief Budget

In light of the current challenging economic climate, on the 26th June, the Whitsunday Regional Council unveiled a cost-of-living budget focused on the community’s most critical needs.
Mayor Ry Collins said that the 2024-25 Council budget ensured the essential services that our community relied upon were maintained, while, also positioning the Whitsunday region for future growth and prosperity.
“The Council’s priority for this budget has been to maintain essential services, address legacy issues in our waste business and adequately plan for the future, while keeping rates as low as possible.” Mayor Collins added that they were presenting a 0% yield increase in general residential owner-occupied rates across the region.

“This measure is intended to dampen the impact of the huge variation in the new State Government valuations handed down this year”.

“Land valuations help determine your rates, so Council are appealing to the State Government for more clarity and certainty around the timings of these valuations to protect our ratepayers from significant spikes like we are experiencing in this budget.”

Mayor Collins continued, stating that some ratepayers will pay “less”, while others will pay “more”. He emphasises the importance for the council to not just think of short-term challenges but also remain financially sustainable long-term, however, councillors have worked hard to deliver a financially sustainable budget.

“The cost-of-living crisis has had a huge impact on the cost of running Council, and I’m very aware that it has also had a huge impact on residents and business owners.”

The mayor added that with the federal and more recent state budgets being handed down, it is apparent that cost shifting by higher tiers of government is seriously impacting the future sustainability of regional councils and their ability to deliver growth and services.

Since 2002, the financial impact of services, which have been shifted onto local councils over a 12-month period has risen from $47 million to $360 million.

The mayor met up with state opposition leader David Crisafulli last week, where he raised the impact of cost-shifting on their ability to deliver vital council services like roads, parks, gardens, swimming pools and libraries. He also stated that he is advocating to the premier and major parties to support local communities by undertaking a Parliamentary Inquiry into local government cost shifting.

Mayor Collins added that “Waste management has been a challenge with increasing compliance costs, so Council has had to increase waste service charges by six per cent to cover the costs of operations”.

Additional discussions included Water and Sewage utilities, which will also increase 8 per cent and 3 per cent respectively, to meet increasing service costs, support strategic network planning and deliver network upgrades.

Highlights of Council’s 2024/25 capital works program include Whitsunday Coast Airport treatment plant upgrade, resealing program to maintain rural roads, new solar at Bowen and Proserpine pools, sealing and lighting of Collinsville airstrip, Jubilee Pocket Road trunk water main and a major investment in waste infrastructure.

Mayor Collins said that himself and Councillors are committed to ensuring that Council’s financial decisions reflect the needs of the Whitsunday community. He continued that they must seek a reduction in costs and work smarter and grow their rate base and number of rateable properties, he added that new housing is “critical” to this.

“We will collaborate with and call on our state and federal governments, as well as private developers, to increase the availability and quantity of affordable housing in our region.”
Mayor Collins adds that they will use allocated funds for strategic projects to drive service, growth, innovation and create new community opportunities.
After the council meeting Mayor Collins added that, whilst the budget is something they can look at improving going forward, they also “need to have a broader view towards the future”, and how they can deliver their “services and infrastructure”.
“We've tried to really look at ways we can reduce expenditure in the organisation, yet, we still have to be able to deliver our services in their entirety”.
Visit the Whitsunday Regional Council website and Facebook page for a range of information and videos relating to the 2024-25 WRC budget.

Mayor Ry Collins holding the 2024-25 Council budget. Photo credit: Ruth Puddefoot

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