Rocky Mayor's desk: Big projects revealed in council budget
ROCKHAMPTON Region Mayor Margaret Strelow has provided The Morning Bulletin with a snapshot of what to expect from RRC's soon to be delivered budget.
This coming council budget will incorporate the funding for the biggest suite of economic investment projects seen for decades. It has the levee bank, it has the art gallery, the final payment on Kershaw Gardens, it has supercars and a very significant continued investment at Mount Archer.
And we have continued to set aside money for our commitment to Adani.
We have pencilled in to forward years the estimated cost of maintaining all these new assets and checked to make sure the figures still work without either going into deficit or without significant rate rises.
The process of setting the council's budget actually begins with our commitment to spending the right amount of money and doing the right amount of work to adequately maintain and gradually improve our water, roads and sewer networks.
There is an asset management plan that guides us, as well as external engineering assessments to make sure that we are getting right. These networks must remain the primary role of local government.
My own parameters for our council budget include additional goals such as a minimum of $1 million in surplus (in the current year and in each of the projected 10 years), and a rate rise both now and going forward as low as it can be (usually CCI plus 1 per cent for growth), and no increase in debt levels overall.
On top of this, I committed to the community about five years ago that we would spend $3 million a year as we gradually worked through installing new stormwater and drainage systems to alleviate long-term problems and we are just starting to see the benefit of this commitment.
But local government has had to assume a much greater role in pushing for and funding projects to build a great lifestyle and a healthy economy as well.
There will always be a range of opinions about where your rates money should be spent. And we do listen.
Just prior to the last council election there was a lot of conversation about the riverside redevelopment. The successful return of all nominating councillors was a great show of faith and confidence in the redevelopment plans.
And it has been very encouraging to see how proud Rockhampton region has become of this development - even those who may not have been supportive at first.
As we press on with our major new projects, we do so confident we are still doing the basics well and we are not creating an unaffordable burden for the future.
We can walk and chew gum at the same time. We just need to be careful how we do it.