As the financial year draws to an end and a new budget is prepared, Central Highlands Mayor Kerry Hayes has reflected on council’s achievements over the past 12 months.
From improved skateparks and road resheeting, to planning scheme amendments and major infrastructure upgrades, Mayor Hayes said he was proud of all council had been able to accomplish.
‘With less than 2 weeks to go, we’re pleased to report that we are well on the way to completing our $61.3 million capital works program for 2021-2022,’ he said.
‘Council’s capital projects are strongly focussed on renewal but also include new things, like the construction of a building or a park. We also invest in planning and design to access additional funding opportunities.
‘Investing in our future is securing our future. These projects recognise the growth and changes of our region and our economy, and value-add to the way of life we all love and cherish here in the Highlands.
Mayor Hayes said some of the capital highlights this financial year were:
- Progress of the ‘Our Region, Our Resilience’ program, culminating in the approval of a Major Planning Scheme Amendment for Floodplain Management
- New skatepark for Blackwater and skatepark upgrades in Sapphire and Capella
- Memorial Garden in Blackwater
- Valve and hydrant replacements across the region
- $4 million road re-sheeting program
- Council plant and vehicles replacement program
- Electrical upgrades at sporting facilities and showgrounds in Springsure, Emerald, Blackwater, Bauhinia, Dingo and Duaringa
- Emerald community kindergarten redevelopment
- Improvements to the Emerald Saleyards
‘Each financial year, our budget is a commitment to deliver for our communities, to provide value for the money you invest to live in this beautiful region,’ Mayor Hayes said.
‘Like any business, we will experience hurdles along the way. This year we continue to feel the impacts of COVID-19 and global conflict on the economy, at all levels, creating upward pressure on costs of living.
‘This is an uncertain and difficult time for all Australians, and as a council we too feel the financial burden.
‘As we prepare next year’s budget, we must take all of these factors into consideration and balance the need to continue progressing our region against our fiscal responsibility.
‘For the last eight years, council has maintained a relentless recovery strategy following the resources sector downturn and kept residential rate increases to a minimum, averaging approximately 2%.
‘Utility charges have been subject to higher increases over this time due to the critical need to ensure secure water service delivery across the region.
‘Council also has an obligation to comply with local government legislation in relation to national competition policy and we therefore must adopt a full cost pricing model for water and sewerage services which guides our annual price increases.
‘This council’s financial position is considered low risk, but this doesn’t mean we don’t have any risk. In the current environment, we need to be smart with this upcoming budget and that will mean increases to keep up with the costs of delivering our core services.
‘Rest assured have been working hard to prepare a balanced, sensible budget and we look forward to delivering it for our communities in 2022-2023.’
The Central Highlands Regional Council will adopt its budget for 2022-2023 at a special council meeting on Tuesday 28 June 2022. You can tune into the livestream here.