Coun­cil­lors try to vote down budget

Debt re­duc­tion not enough for Jamieson, Hall

Chinchilla News - - NEWS -

TWO coun­cil­lors at­tempted to vote down the Western Downs Re­gional Coun­cil 2014/15 budget, con­cerned about the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s grow­ing debt.

Coun­cil­lors Ray Jamieson and Char­lene Hall went against their col­leagues to vote against adopt­ing the budget at a spe­cial budget meet­ing in Dalby on Fri­day, June 13 — Black Fri­day — be­cause they felt the coun­cil was not do­ing enough to ad­dress its debt, which cur­rently sits at about $70 mil­lion.

Cr Jamieson’s amend­ment to cut op­er­a­tional ex­pen­di­ture by $2 mil­lion was not sup­ported.

“I guess I felt we needed to make some cuts in our op­er­at­ing ex­pen­di­ture to pay off our debts at an ac­cel­er­ated rate,” he said.

“We will be look­ing at an­other $20 mil­lion in debt com­ing in the 2015/16 budget – that was fore­most in my mind.

“I’m a be­liever that the present day com­mu­nity should be liv­ing within its means and not bur­den­ing fu­ture gen­er­a­tions with too much debt.”

How­ever Cr Jamieson did say this year’s budget process was the best in the years since amal­ga­ma­tion and he was pleased with the coun­cil in­fra­struc­ture spend.

Cr Hall said coun­cil could not sus­tain the way it cur­rently did busi­ness.

“It may be the pop­u­lar choice to say yes to shiny new in­fra­struc­ture but we need to be re­spon­si­ble with where we source the funds to deliver the project,” she said.

Mayor Ray Brown de­scribed the budget as a “bal­anced and re­spon­si­ble”, one that pre­dicted an over­all op­er­at­ing sur­plus of $7 mil­lion, con­tin­u­ing the trend es­tab­lished last year.

Cr Brown said the budget was about sus­tain­abil­ity, re­cov­ery and growth.

“It will en­able coun­cil to con­tinue its re­cov­ery from the most re­cent flood­ing events and deliver es­sen­tial projects and ser­vices to our grow­ing com­mu­ni­ties, en­sur­ing the pros­per­ity of our re­gion into the fu­ture,” he said.

“Our towns are chang­ing rapidly, with Miles, Wan­doan and Chin­chilla in par­tic­u­lar fac­ing un­prece­dented growth and land val­u­a­tion in­creases as a re­sult of eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity as­so­ci­ated with the en­ergy sec­tor,” Cr Brown said.

“One of the re­sult­ing chal­lenges has been to fund in­fra­struc­ture projects with min­i­mal im­pact on tra­di­tional ratepay­ers.

“With the growth of the en­ergy sec­tor in our re­gion comes sig­nif­i­cant risks to coun­cil in terms of pro­vid­ing in­fra­struc­ture such as roads, wa­ter, sew­er­age and waste dis­posal fa­cil­i­ties to meet the growth in de­mand.”

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