CEO David Keenan speaks with Mayor Tracy Dobie at a Southern Downs Regional Council meeting in Warwick in 2019.
CEO David Keenan speaks with Mayor Tracy Dobie at a Southern Downs Regional Council meeting in Warwick in 2019. Marian Faa

BUDGET REVEAL: Cost of living in Warwick set to spike

THE cost of living in the Southern Downs will increase 2.3 per cent under a draft budget that could see Southern Downs Regional Council collect an extra $1.39 million from ratepayers over the next financial year.

A rate rise of two per cent under the proposed budget is the lowest our region has seen in eight years, but sits above the annual national CPI rise of 1.8 per cent.

Cr Sheryl Windle thanked council staff for the work they had done in preparing the draft budget.

The increase in general rates and utility charges come as the council is projected to suffer a massive $3.9 million loss in capital grants that will see road and infrastructure spending plummet.

If the draft budget is approved, local politicians will allocate $8.8 million less towards roads, bridges and footpaths around the Southern Downs.

 

Helping out: Herb Connell (Dalby) and Warren Hoffman (Warwick depot) at Mission Beach.  They were part of the first response crew choppered into Tully on Saturday. On Sunday, they restored power to critical infrastructure in the CBD, including the Woolworths supermarket and an ATM.
Infrastructure spending is set to take a hit in the 2019-20 draft budget. contributed

Maintenance and upgrade of current assets is also set to take a huge $14.3 million cut, despite frequent discussion about the need to renew ageing infrastructure.

In a council meeting on Wednesday, Cr Vic Pennisi said old, deteriorating pipes in our region were part of the reason almost a quarter of precious drinking water was lost or unaccounted for.

By comparison $8 million more will be invested in new assets.

Despite an overall loss in revenue, the draft budget forecasts a surplus of $12.9 million following a period from 2015 to 2018 when the council was placed on the Queensland Treasury watch list.

In a special meeting on Wednesday, Cr Rod Kelly said the budget was "more than just numbers".

"It must be realistic, responsible and achievable, and this budget is all of those things," Cr Kelly said.

From 9am until 1pm today, councillors will be at Rose City Shoppingworld to discuss the draft budget and take feedback from the community.

The consultation period will extend over the next 28 days.

"We have seen a remarkable increase in attendance at the consultations in the past and I think there is more interest in what we are doing," Cr Windle said.

 

Southern Downs Regional Councillors were split on the big decision made in the Warwick council chambers yesterday. Tracy Dobie, David Keenan. Jo McNally.
Southern Downs Regional Councillors have pledged to accept community feedback on the draft budget. Marian Faa

DRAFT BUDGET: WHAT'S IN IT

  • Rates to increase 2 per cent.
  • Utility charges to increase 2.75 per cent.
  • Rate rise forecast to be the lowest in eight years.
  • Rates comprise 65.3 per cent of projected council revenue.
  • Surplus projected to be $12.6 million, which is a decrease on this financial year's projected $16.6 million surplus.
  • Last borrowing was in 2014 for the Allora Water Pipeline.
  • Council plans to reduce debt by $1.59 million in coming financial year.
  • Capital expenditure set to drop $6.29 million.
  • Employee costs set to increase by $338,000.

WHAT COULD BE CUT:

  • Warwick Saleyards - $250,000 reduction
  • Council depots - $95,000 reduction
  • Land costs - $625,000 reduction
  • Plant and machinery - $616,000 reduction
  • Computers and telecommunications - $306,000 reduction
  • Roads, bridges and pathways - $8.8 million reduction
  • Drainage - $302,000 reduction
  • Water - $5.3 million reduction
  • Asset renewal and upgrade - $14.3 million reduction

WHERE WE PLAN TO BOOST:

  • Community facilities - $1.3 million increase
  • Parks and open spaces - $2 million increase
  • Waste management - $2 million increase
  • Waste water - $4.8 million increase
  • New assets - $8 million increase