Earlier this morning the new Tablelands Regional Council (TRC) has handed down its first budget for the 2020–21 financial year.
TRC Mayor Rod Marti announced that it was a balanced budget after inheriting a budget deficit from the previous council of approximately 3.5 million dollars.
“Prior to the completion of the audit for the 2019–20 year, our best advice is that Council will likely face a deficit of approximately $3.5M. Against that, today’s $60.4M blueprint outlines both a balanced budget and a freeze on rates,” Mr Marti said
“We had to make a call on rates to minimise the impact on our community and we have acted by freezing the general rate across all categories,” he said.
“This acknowledges the unfolding impacts of Covid-19 and puts a halt to the stiff rates trend over recent years. Rates affordability is a big issue and we have listened.”
While rates freezes will be good news to residents there will be small price rises for utilities. Water access will increase $31/year, waste will increase $16/year and sewerage increases $23/year while water consumption has gone up 0.16c/kL
Mr Marti said that with a flatline on general rates and subsequent revenue, TRC must now ‘live within its means’.
“In the past, annual rate increases have delivered significant boosts to revenue, and TRC has been expanding activity and expenditure year on year so that now stops,” said Mayor Marti.
“This year’s budget is a responsible reset that will allow us to refocus on community and maintaining critical infrastructure.
“Alongside the freeze on general rates we’re delivering a balanced budget — and to balance the budget we’ve already reduced employee costs by $1M.
“This reduction is part of a broader organisational review that’s underway to underpin a more efficient and fit-for-purpose Council.”
In May TRC Councillors and senior staff voted to forego their scheduled annual increase in remuneration.
“Over the coming year, we’ll have a close look at aging and under-utilised assets and review all rates concessions”
“Some decisions won’t be popular, but such reviews are necessary.” Mr Marti said.
Some of the big-ticket items in the budget included $4.7M for the Ravenshoe irrigation area, $2.7 for the Mary Street Bridge, $1.5M for the Theresa Creek road widen and seal and $1.45M for the Blencoe Creek bridge upgrade.
Council has committed $60.4M in Operational Spending
$9.1M for water infrastructure
$8.9M on roads
$8M on waste
$5.3M on wastewater
$4.1M on corporate and community buildings, showgrounds, halls, toilets, etc.
$4M on parks
Council has a capital works budget of $29.6 million.
Key areas include:
$18M for roads, bridges, foothpaths and drains
$6.1M on water improvements
$950k on parks and swimming pools
$620k on wastewater
$450k on animal pound facilities
$370k on waste
$185k on cemeteries
$147k on libraries
$60k on caravan parks