THROUGH three major natural disasters, Rocky has bounced back and is set to be better than ever. 

That's the message from Rockhampton Regional Mayor Margaret Strelow who this morning looked to Hollywood when summing up the council's response to Cyclone Marcia. 

With the theme song to Rocky playing in the background, Cr Strelow delivered her vision for the region's future, highlighting growth in the city's CBD and announcing a rate rise of 1.9%. 

Read Cr Strelow's full budget speech below: 

I acknowledge that we are standing on the traditional land of the Darumbal people.  

I also acknowledge my fellow Councillors.  

The budget released this week didn't just 'happen'. Your Council budget this year is built on the back of the hard financial' work since de-amalgamation.  

We have delivered a budget that reduces debt. We've reduced debt nearly $4m in the three years since de-amalgamation and will pay off another $30 million in the next nine years.  

We delivered a budget which is our third successive budget in surplus.   We delivered a budget with the lowest rate rise this Century -sitting at just 1.9%. And that is an honest 1.9% - when averaged across all of the components of your rates notice, not just some.  

That is just $.90 a week.  

This Budget is one that responds well to the tough economic climate by keeping rates low but still provides investment in Economic Development initiatives designed to assist in making Rockhampton the region that our community values and others admire.  

During the 2014/15 year, Queensland Treasury Corporation (QTC) undertook a Credit Review of Council's Financial Plan as well as Governance operations.  

The result was a moderate rating with neutral outlook.  

Councillor Stephen Schwarten, Cr Rose Swadling, Cr Cherie Rutherford and Cr Tony Williams watch on as Mayor Margaret Strelow delivers the draft budget for 2015/16. Photo Rachael Conaghan/The Morning Bulletin
Councillor Stephen Schwarten, Cr Rose Swadling, Cr Cherie Rutherford and Cr Tony Williams watch on as Mayor Margaret Strelow delivers the draft budget for 2015/16. Photo Rachael Conaghan/The Morning Bulletin Rachael Conaghan

  This was a substantial achievement as it meant that the rating was not eroded by de-amalgamation, but was maintained.  

The financial stability of the council is measured by reference to a number of sustainability ratios.  

The QTC report had many positive comments in respect of the Organisation and suggested the path forward would lead to further improvement in our credit rating.  

This budget continues on that path forward and responds to other concerns raised by QTC in ensuring discipline around capital investment and keeping rate increases to a minimum.  

Contrary to popular opinion our rates are modest compared with others around us.  

The notable highlights of the 2015-16 Budget are:  

▪ Average Residential Ratepayer Increase only 1.9%  

▪ Operational Surplus of $7.52million  

▪ Debt is Decreasing  

▪ On-track with Long Term Financial Plan  

▪ Redevelopment of the high bank of the River and Quay Street $7.1 over three years  

▪ Disaster Recovery Monies for Kershaw and Botanic Gardens  

▪ CBD investment and attraction and continued relief of Infrastructure Charges to encourage investment  

▪ Increased event funding to make our region vibrant and interesting  

▪ Further investment in Cedric Archer Park to fill the large recreational and sporting needs in the Gracemere area ($1.8million over 2 years).  

▪ $69 capital programme  

▪ Increased investment in stormwater drainage - $3million allocated in 2015/16 ten year programme  

▪ Continued with small wins of the 2014/15 budget of 'free green waste', $2 pool entry, more resurfacing for roads, increased rebates to sporting clubs, increased Pensioner Rebate (at a maximum of $250)  

The 2015/16 Budget documents demonstrate that Council has the required discipline to meet its financial goals, whilst still allowing some scope for investment in Economic Development and providing incentives for the Region to grow.  

Council has come through a period of serious financial challenges with three major natural disasters in five years and the deamalgamation.  

Council's sound financial base as well as the solid infrastructure provided in the Rockhampton Region and our solid population base will no doubt make Rockhampton an attractive option for growth in years to come.  

This budget delivers on key projects which are needed to give energy to our local economy - Quay Street, Cedric Archer Park and various Development Incentives.  

We had sea change and tree change and opting out. Our City is where people opt in and want a connected dynamic environment. Our City is where creativity and engagement and young people live.  

A recent Council survey showed that one in three across our region would live in our City if they could.  

We have a range of incentives and inducements in this budget to help make their dream a reality.  

The credit for the success of our efforts at fixing our Budget sits squarely at the feet the local community.  

Apart from the odd angry voice on social media you have understood the importance of the changes we've had to make to secure our future as a vibrant important Regional city.  

And credit must go to Council's team right across the region.  

From the men and women in our widespread outdoor workforce who have continued to deliver in a tough environment, to the internal staff who have learnt to do more with less.  

And special thanks to the Finance team and the CEO.  

And last but not least, to the Councillors. It has been an incredibly challenging journey, and has had its moments to say the least. But you have stayed the course and stood together as precious projects were cut and dreams deferred.   We have cut, we have resized, reshaped, and reinvented ourselves.  

This Budget proves the strength and resilience of our new economic fundamentals.  

The ship has turned to the future with wind in our sails.  

To each of you - I say - well done.

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