A modest operating surplus and a general rate rise of no more than CPI for most ratepayers are the cornerstones of the Noosa Council budget, handed down recently.
Mayor Clare Stewart said the budget represents Council’s commitment to deliver on community priorities in an affordable, responsible manner.
“Through our community consultation on the budget, it was evident that residents wanted more funds directed to infrastructure, community initiatives and the environment,” she said.
“We are in a unique post-crisis environment and this budget certainly takes that into account.”
Council is forecasting a surplus of $309,000 – a year earlier than predicted as part of its four-year COVID-19 Recovery Plan.
Ratepayers totally 75 per cent will see a general rate increase of no more than CPI of 1.5 per cent.
When including all rates and charges an average residential property owner can expect a total increase in their rates notice of $44, equivalent to about 85 cents a week.
Council is maintaining the current five per cent discount period on general rates.
“We have maintained our discount for eligible pensioners and scrapped the three-year wait for new property owners to qualify for the pensioner discount,” Mayor Stewart said.
Cr Stewart said the past twelve months had been challenging, but council had continued to respond in an appropriate and financially responsible way.
“We have introduced a category for transitionary accommodation or short-stay properties which addresses the impact guests of these properties have on the demand for council services and infrastructure,” she said.
The Sustainable Transport Levy is back at pre-COVID levels, while the Environment Levy increases to $8 and the Heritage Levy is up $3.50. Both are still below pre-COVID levels.
A new Bushfire Resilience and Response Levy will fund a doubling of hazard reduction burns and increase fire trail maintenance across the shire.
One of the initiatives is a $2 million commitment for the Peregian Beach Digital Hub Fire Tech Living Lab. There’s also more funding for backburns and creating new fire access trails across the shire.
There is a 10 per cent increase in the community grants program, an additional community development officer to be employed and a $276,000 boost in funding for environment levy initiatives.
“We have put a focus on delivering tangible outcomes for our community, providing grassroots-style projects that will make a difference to the lives of our residents,” Cr Stewart said.
· $47 million Capital Works program,
· $7.5 million to replace seven bridges across the shire
· $500,000 for an additional weighbridge at the Noosaville Waste Facility
· $1.5 million to upgrade the Pomona section of the Noosa trail
· $2.52 million for ongoing tourism promotion in the shire
· $5.3 million for road resurfacing and gravel road re-sheeting
· $636,000 to implement initiatives in the new Walking and Cycling Strategy
· $260,000 for ongoing management of the Noosa River