DIVISION 1: What Cr Shane Latcham has for you in this budget
FOR NEWLY elected Rockhampton region Shane Latcham, the past few months have been a baptism of fire.
Cr Latcham began his councillor career in April, in the depths of the global coronavirus pandemic.
He and division 7 councillor Donna Kirkland were the only new faces at the council table and were thrown in the deep end.
With Federal Government social distancing and crowd limit restrictions, the council meetings were even held in a different way - livestreamed from the Pilbeam Theatre stage.
Rockhampton Regional Council was affected more so than other councils by the COVID-19 economic fallout.
This was due to the fact council owns the Rockhampton Airport and passenger numbers dropped to 15 per cent in June 2020, compared to what they were the year before.
It was been estimated the total lost revenue was $7.4 million.
Trying to manage this, council had to produce one of the most difficult budgets it had ever done.
The budget, which was handed down on Tuesday, is the first budget in seven years that has a deficit.
The deficit, which is the first one since deamalagamation, is $5.4 million with increased borrowings of $29.4 million for the capital program.
Mayor Margaret Strelow said it was "impossible" to present a budget without a deficit, otherwise there would have had to be council staff redundancies and a significant rate rise.
Various meetings and workshops were held with councillors and key council staff, including chief financial officer Alicia Cutler, to work through presenting the best budget they could.
Cr Latcham said it had been an "epic journey" working through the budget as they all "navigated unchartered times".
He said they were presented with difficult decisions to steer a pathway for now and for the future.
"The strength of this year's budget is providing some financial assistance to the majority of local residential ratepayers," Cr Latcham said.
"The budget allows Rockhampton Regional Council to provide the essential services our community needs with roads, water, waste, sewerage and outstanding community facilities.
"We acknowledge that many are doing it tough at the moment and council provided some relief with a $70 concession for many ratepayers.
"There were tough decisions made for tough uncertain times and I commend the other Councillors and the Mayor for steering the budget with consideration for hardships being encountered now from COVID-19 and responsible planning for the future of the Rockhampton community."
Cr Latcham's Division 1 covers the areas of Norman Gardens, Parkhurst and Limestone Creek.
Cr Latcham said the community would get its "fair share of the community benefits".
The Rockhampton Heritage Village will receive $500,000 each year for the next two years for revitalisation works.
"I am excited and look forward to seeing what is being proposed to showcase this important historical facility for the community," Cr Latcham said.
A grand reopening is planned for July 2021.
"All good things are worth waiting for," Cr Latcham said.
To complement the major highway upgrades in Parkhurst, there will be further road work upgrades with road reconstruction planned for Norman Rd from Boundary Rd to Olive St.
"The construction of the Federal Government-funded ring road will benefit the Division One community to have a quicker access to the airport and Gracemere," Cr Latcham said.
Cr Latcham noted council had already built upgraded play facilities at Joe Harrison Park near the Parkhurst Primary School earlier this month. '
"It is very popular with the school children of all ages," he said.
"Parkhurst has grown in leaps and bounds over the past few years and it will continue to be in the growth corridor of North Rockhampton."
There are more footpaths scheduled throughout the Rockhampton region with almost $2 million of funds allocated this financial year.
In Division One the existing footpath continues along Richardson Rd leading up towards St. Anthony's Primary School from Bruigom St to Yewdale Dr.