Big capital works budget opens doors for local businesses
A LOWER-than-projected rate-rise and major infrastructure upgrades are the features of the 2018/19 budget voted in by Southern Downs councillors this morning.
Local businesses could benefit from the council's sizeable capital works program, which includes a massive $3 million plant replacement program, $2 million for a new Palmer Bridge at Freestone, upgrades to roads and new Condamine River cycleway and footpath extensions.
"There is plenty of opportunity there for local businesses," deputy mayor Jo McNally said in a council meeting this morning.
The budget forecasts a long-term rate rise of 3 per cent, which is slightly better than the 4 per cent long-term forecast previously predicted.
While the budget finds Southern Downs Regional Council in a better financial position compared with previous years, its total revenue will decrease by $3.3 million.
The council's operating surplus is expected to come in at a very modest $146,000 but mayor Tracy Dobie assured residents the council was in a good financial position.
The council will spend $590,000 to improve the Warwick and Stanthorpe Aerodromes.
A total of $173,000 has been budgeted for operating and maintenance costs for the region's cemeteries.
FUNDING TO COMMUNITY
The council has committed its support to local groups and organisations by way of community funding programs including community grants, community support, sport and recreation grants, events grants and fast response small grants to the sum of $472,000.
In recognition of the ongoing high use of Southern Downs Regional Libraries, the council continues its commitment to funding library services with $183,000 allocated to the purchase of new books and materials.
The council will again invest in a number of major events held in the region including, Jumpers and Jazz in July Festival, Warwick Rodeo, Snowflakes in Stanthorpe Winter Festival and the Historic Leyburn Sprints, with a total commitment of $35,000.
A total of $160,000 has been budgeted for the renewal of parks furniture across the region. The council places a strong emphasis on the amenity of the region, as well as providing safe outdoor areas, public spaces and play equipment for children and families.
The council has budgeted $1.6 million for pest management operations throughout the region.
It has allocated funding of $11,000 for replacing a section of the Killarney wild dog fence and $20,000 for the replacement of 1.5km of the Stanthorpe wild dog fence, continuing the commitment to combating the problems caused by wild dogs in the region.
Bounty payments for wild dogs are again being provided by the council to assist in the control of these animals.
ROADS AND BRIDGES
In 2018/2019, $18.8 million will be spent on roads, bridges, drainage and footpaths ensuring safer roads for all users.
Major projects include $998,000 for the widening of Amiens Road; $800,000 for the widening of Inverramsay Road and $7 million for the QRA betterment program.
The Budget also contains $1 million for gravel re-sheeting and $1 million for re-sealing of roads throughout the region.
The council has allocated $250,000 in safety improvements to the Warwick Saleyards.
Works will continue on Stanthorpe streetscape, with $85,000 allocated to the project.
SUPPORTING ARTS, CULTURE AND HERITAGE
The council recognises the importance of a vibrant local arts community and the 2018/19 Budget will support the region's endeavours in the arts, culture and heritage with a budget allocation of $360,000. This amount includes funding of $350,000 towards the operation and maintenance of the Warwick and Stanthorpe Art Galleries and $10,000 for the Stanthorpe Museum.
A total of $8.93 million has been allocated to the upgrade of water and wastewater facilities in the region.
Major projects include $623,000 for Stanthorpe Waste Facility cell profiling; $6.56M allocated to water trunk main construction at Storm King Dam; $650,000 for sewer relining works across the region and $960,000 for SCADA and Telemetry renewals and upgrades.