Budget eq­uity

Central and North Burnett Times - - FRONT PAGE - Emily Smith emily.smith@cnbtimes.com.au

AF­TER years of dis­crep­an­cies in the rates be­tween lo­cal towns, North Bur­nett Re­gional Coun­cil has brought ev­ery­one into line on all but one vi­tal charge.

Fees for wa­ter sup­ply and cleans­ing ser­vices are now stan­dard through­out the shire af­ter the 2014/15 coun­cil budget was handed down on Tues­day.

Sew­er­age schemes are ex­pected to fol­low suit next year.

Smooth­ing out these dif­fer­ences is help­ing to “gel the shire to­gether as a com­mu­nity”, Deputy Mayor Faye Whelan said.

“Monto was pay­ing the high­est util­ity rates af­ter amal­ga­ma­tion and we have brought ev­ery other town up to al­most that same level now,” she said.

The budget handed down a base rate rise of 3%.

Mayor Don Waugh said this was the fairest budget since amal­ga­ma­tion.

A $4.1 MIL­LION roads main­te­nance pool of­fered in the 2014/15 budget will be hotly con­tested by coun­cil­lors hop­ing to get works fin­ished in their ar­eas.

“The budget is cer­tainly sparse, but what we will be hop­ing for in Mun­dub­bera is money for road main­te­nance,” Mun­dub­bera coun­cil­lor Faye Whelan said. “We need to re­pair the miss­ing links that were dam­aged but were not (in­cluded in) the flood re­cov­ery main­te­nance.

“Land­hold­ers want to see pot­holes filled on bi­tu­men roads and more gravel put on gravel roads.”

Mayor Don Waugh said the tough eco­nomic cli­mate, flood re­cov­ery spend­ing and higher govern­ment fund­ing with­drawals meant there would be a 3% base rate rise this year.

“(The budget) al­lows lit­tle lee­way to do any ex­tra, it only al­lows us to main­tain what we have,” he said.

Cr Whelan said the coun­cil un­der­stood the com­mu­nity was suf­fer­ing. “We hope res­i­dents will see we have tried to be very re­spon­si­ble with this budget.

“We can’t make up the money we won’t get from the Federal Govern­ment this year, but we don’t want that to bur­den ratepay­ers.”

Cr Jo Dowling will also be hop­ing for a piece of the roads main­te­nance fund­ing pie.

“We are look­ing for­ward to the widen­ing of the cor­ner at Cordelia St and Ri­fle Range Rd, as well as the re­place­ment of Guy­atts Bridge,” she said.

Seal­ing the re­main­ing sec­tion of the Gayn­dah-Mun­dub­bera Rd, and the land­ing strip at Gayn­dah air­port are also highly an­tic­i­pated, she said.

The es­tab­lish­ment of a cen­tralised coun­cil call cen­tre in the old ad­min­is­tra­tion cen­tre in Monto is ex­pected to cre­ate jobs.

“De­vel­op­ing this will take be­tween three to six months, and it will make (the coun­cil) op­er­ate more ef­fi­ciently,” Cr Paul Lobegeir said.

A skate park ap­proval for Mt Perry has Cr John Bowen pleased.

“A sew­er­age up­grade for the Mt Perry car­a­van park, the Mungy Bridge re­place­ment and a bi­tu­men seal on Long hole Rd will all be good for the town,” he said.

In Biggen­den, Cr Lofty Wendt wanted more fund­ing for cul­verts on roads, but was pleased there would be an awning at the aged care units.

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