Balanced budget, low rate rise, big investment
Published: 29 Jun 2015
For the second consecutive year, Cairns Regional Council has achieved a surplus operating result and delivered a modest 1.5 per cent rates increase, while delivering a strong capital works program and community investment.
“Thanks to the ongoing commitment to reducing costs through efficient use of resources, we will finish 2014-15 with a surplus in the order of $8 million,” Mayor Bob Manning said.
“This allows us to keep the rates increase to a minimum while still having the ability to deliver a comprehensive capital works program and the level of services the community expects. It follows on from the freezing of the Fees and Charges Schedule and removal of the credit card surcharges, which were announced last month.”
A $142 million capital works program includes the start of construction of The Precinct, comprising the new Cairns Performing Arts Centre and the Munro Martin Parklands; stage 1 of the Shields Street Heart project; completion of the Tobruk Memorial Pool redevelopment; and $36 million worth of road and transport improvements.
It also has a distinct focus on delivery of suburban projects, with 75 per cent of the roads and transport infrastructure budget to be spent in the suburbs.
“It is a well-rounded capital works program, delivering new infrastructure for the sporting and cultural communities, improved roads, upgrading of vital infrastructure such as drainage and sewerage and the first steps toward securing our water supply for the next 30 years,” Cr Manning said.
“In recognition of the importance of the tourism industry to our region’s economy, we have increased our contribution to local tourism marketing by committing $2 million to Tourism Tropical North Queensland to boost marketing of the region. An additional $1 million can be leveraged by TTNQ to secure matching funding from other levels of government or the private sector.
“We are also investing $670,000 to support and develop major sporting events that will deliver economic benefits to the region, such as Ironman Cairns, Mountain Bike events and an AFL fixture.
“But we are also investing in our own community, with more than $1.3m available to local organisations through our various grants programs.”
The 2015-2016 Budget at a glance
- Council has delivered a balanced Budget with a total operating expenditure/revenue of $283m
Low Rate Rise
- Average general rate increase of 1.5%
- Utility charges to increase by 1.5%
- 75% of ratepayers to receive an increase of 1.5% or less
Significant Capital Works Program
- A Capital Works program worth $142.7m
- Includes $13m for The Precinct and $7.4m for Shields St Heart Stage 1
- $36m in spending on roads and transport, 75% of which will be in the suburbs.
- $34m on water, sewerage and waste infrastructure
- $29m on community and sporting infrastructure
Stimulating the Economy
- Expenditure of $228m on materials and services
- $3m committed for tourism marketing
- $670,000 to support major sporting events
- $360,000 for economic and industry development
Debt Levels Low
- Debt level rated second-lowest out of the 15 medium and large Queensland councils.
- Debt per capita of $521
- Council to finish 2014-15 with an operating surplus of approximately $8m
- Financial modelling over next 10 years indicates capital expenditure of approximately $1.4 billion and annual rate increase of between 2% and 3.5%