REVEALED: Why the LSC budget divided the council table
IN THE words of Livingstone's deputy mayor, Nigel Hutton, the 2018/19 budget "has an eye to the 10-year future and over the horizon”.
The budget delivered a general residential rate rise of 2.9 percent - lower than forecast, no further borrowings until 2024/25, a reduction in debt and a deficit of only $750,000, also lower than forecast.
Cr Hutton praised the budget as fiscally responsible and most councillors at the table yesterday agreed it was a "very good budget”.
Still, it took Mayor Bill Ludwig's casting vote to get it over the line.
The sticking point was the introduction of a landlord tax and though only likely to sting to the tune of about 63 cents a week, a principle was at stake.
Councillors Glenda Mather, Adam Belot and Pat Eastwood stuck to that principle and voted against the budget.
The absence of Cr Tom Wyatt left the mayor Bill Ludwig, deputy Nigel Hutton and Councillor Jan Kelly, requiring Cr Ludwig to use his casting vote.
Although absent for family reasons yesterday, Cr Wyatt told The Morning Bulletin he would "definitely” have voted to adopt the budget.
He said he'd initially disagreed with the landlord tax because he didn't understand it until it was explained to him in terms of the overall budget.
- General rates plus utility services and charges for most owner-occupied residential properties - average 3.3 per cent or $2.56 per week
- Non owner-occupied residential properties - 4.5 per cent or $3.19 per week
- Valuation banding for commercial/light industrial categories and retail warehouse categories created to reflect capacity of land to generate revenue or impact on infrastructure
- Major tourism facilities average increase 9.1 percent to reflect significant infrastructure investment
- Environmental levy increase by 8.2 per cent to $65.
- Disaster response levy of $20 introduced.
- Maximum pensioner rebate retained
- No new borrowings until 2024/25. Debt reduces from $85.3m to $80.5m this financial year and forecast to reduce to $27m by 2027/28.
- Improved operating position for this financial year of approximately $4 million puts the council on track for an operating surplus from next year, one year earlier than previous forecasts.
- Continued funding for Capricorn Enterprise and place-making strategy.
- Capital works program of $48.3m including $14.6m from state and federal governments, includes $19m for roads and transport infrastructure and $6.5m for maintenance programs.
- Yeppoon sewerage treatment plant augmentation - $14.1m
- Emu Park Village and Foreshore Revitalisation - $2.9m
- Capricorn Coast Memorial Gardens - $2.9m
- Shared pathway along Scenic Hwy - $2.3m
- Civil works at Homemaker Centre - $1.8m
- Roundabout at Old Rockhampton and Barmaryee Rds - $1.6m
- Sealing $2.1km of Svendsen Rd - $1.6m
- Upgrade parking at St Christopher's Chapel in conjunction with TMR upgrades at Nerimbera boat ramp - $1.2m
- Upgrade St Christopher's Chapel Rd - $1.0m
- Signalised intersection on Taranganba Rd to improve school safety - $1.2 million
- Rural road sealing and pavement renewal - $2.1 million
- Replace and widen Daly Creek bridge - $850,000
- Rural floodway upgrades, flood mitigation - $1.5m
- Yeppoon Town Centre Smart Precinct and Lighting - $895,000
Only Cr Mather remained steadfastly opposed to the budget principals, telling the meeting she took no pride or joy in voting against it.
"There are people at Barmaryee who can't get out when it floods, but that's not on the agenda. There's things we've overlooked,” she said.
"I will be part of the problem if we don't go down the path of what's important to people.”
In contrast, Cr Kelly said the budget was "responsible and responded to feedback from ratepayers”.
"It's been a collective and collaborative process the mayor has always encouraged,” she said.
"This budget has been developed by a democratic process ... I'm very proud of it and all we've achieved over the past six years.”
Mayor Bill Ludwig acknowledged that councillors would never all agree on everything but said "this budget sets up our future”.
"We were lumbered by a crook hand (at de-amalgamation) in 2014, but a community and a council putting in together will always shine through,” he said.
"This is a great team with a great resolve to look to the future, stare adversity in the face and take on some very ambitious projects.
"This is an outstanding result and the term isn't finished ... we will continue the consolidation.
"This has been a herculean effort from the entire organisation. (It's) taken discipline, focus and team work.
"Some people will never see past the next pothole, but some people can see over the horizon.”