Livingstone releases draft budget for consultation
No new borrowings, rate freezes or reductions, a new water charging scheme and millions of dollars expenditure on infrastructure are all proposed in the Livingstone Shire Council's draft budget for the next financial year.
Community consultation is now opened for the council's 2021/2022 budget and a new innovative online tool, which was trialled last year, will be available again for people to create and submit their own version of the budget for the council's consideration.
In this draft budget, total expenditure for 2021/2022 is at $143.9 million, with $48.4 million going towards community and economic infrastructure.
This draft budget shows $1,014,135,000 worth of net community assets, up from $976,907,000 from the previous financial year.
Total liabilities are down to $81,626,000 from $91,239,000 last year, and the value of assets has slightly increased to $1,095,761,000 from $1,068,147,000.
The draft budget predicts the total comprehensive income to be $28,088,000 which is up from $24,097,000 in the previous budget.
External grants totalling $27 million have been obtained by the council for infrastructure projects.
The $13 million federal commitment to upgrading the Yeppoon Aquatic Centre means the council won't have to consider getting a loan for this critical upgrade.
The council is planning on bringing the budget down in a special meeting on June 29.
Mayor Andy Ireland said they were not intending on borrowing any more money, in order to bring down the debt.
According to the draft budget, the council's debt currently stands at $54.4 million and there's plans for a $5.5 million reduction in loans.
Debt is forecasted to reduce from $60 million to $7.3 million at the end of 2030-2031 and the council doesn't have any additional borrowing forecast in the next 10 years.
"We're launching our budget consultation process as of last week and we're seeking the community's input into the budget process," Cr Ireland said.
Livingstone Shire Council was one of the first in Australia to implement an interactive budget simulation tool where residents can tinker with spending options to see how it affects the bottom line.
Residents can then submit their custom budget proposal to the council for consideration.
"It allows the community to hop in and actually build the budget based on figures," he said.
Deputy mayor and portfolio holder for organisational performance Adam Belot said the tool gave residents a chance to build their own draft budget.
"Budget deliberation can be a complex balancing act, so we wanted to give Livingstone residents the opportunity to understand what goes into building the budget, having to balance a total of $143.9 million in operational and capital works spending," Cr Belot said.
"We recognise that some community members want to be involved in the budget process from start to finish, while others are more interested in the end result, so this consultation facilitates that and allows residents to get involved in a more meaningful way, gaining a deeper level of understating of the annual budget.
"We welcome the community's participation and look forward to once again consulting with residents on the budget consultation paper, following careful consideration taken by councillors and council staff to build a budget that aims to meet the community's needs and expectations on the delivery of its services."
Some significant highlights of the budget are:
- Holding or reducing residential rates, the road network separate charge and the environment levy
- Phasing in over the next five years towards a user pays charging structure for water schemes based on quality of water supplied (potable versus non-potable) and water pressure (on-demand versus constant flow)
- Transition over the next five years to target a two-tier consumption charge. The council says this is to bring more in line with industry peers and a greater incentive to conserve water
- Maintaining the maximum $300 rebate for pensioners and eligible concession card holders
- Continuing ongoing community sponsorships and grant program of $400,000
- Investing $48.4 million in existing and new infrastructure
- No new loan borrowings with a $5.5 million reduction in loans continuing the focus on debt reduction
- Healthy cash balance forecast
The following allocations are set out in the draft budget:
- Customer service, governance and administration: $11 million
- Environmental and Public Health and Safety: $4.4 million
- Community Services and events: $5.1 million
- Road, Bridges, Drainage, Parks and recreation : $19.2 million
- Shire Planning and Economic Development: $7.4 million
- Waste Services: $7.1m Waste Water (Sewerage) Services: $4.5 million
- Water Infrastructure: $12.1 million
- Depreciation: $22.5 million
- Total $93.3 million
Residents can have their say on budget consultation here.