Bud­get anx­i­ety

↑4.63% av­er­age rate rise ↑$18 in­crease to an­nual rub­bish col­lec­tion ↑3.03% rise to wa­ter ac­cess

Isis Town and Country - - Front Page - By LEAH KIDD

“A GEN­UINE game changer” is how Bund­aberg Mayor Mal For­man de­scribed the coun­cil’s 2015/16 bud­get which in­cludes a 4.63% rate rise.

The rate rise was just part of the 77-page bud­get doc­u­ment ap­proved at the re­cent coun­cil meet­ing but not be­fore Di­vi­sion Three rep­re­sen­ta­tive Wayne Honor had de­clared his op­po­si­tion.

Cr Honor told his fel­low coun­cil­lors the $34.7 mil­lion al­lo­cated in the bud­get to­wards the $93 up­grade of the Rubyanna Waste­water Treat­ment plant was a bur­den too big for ratepay­ers to bear.

He said those in his ru­ral Gin Gin di­vi­sion and the wider re­gion were still strug­gling with fi­nan­cial and emo­tional hard­ships af­ter be­ing hit in re­cent years by two floods and a cy­clone.

“We’ve gone through five years of dis­as­ters. There’s thou­sands of peo­ple who are suf­fer­ing,” Cr Honor said.

“Th­ese peo­ple are find­ing it more and more dif­fi­cult to pay their rates.

“I be­lieve it’s pru­dent for me to vote against the bud­get.”

Cr Honor said the fail­ure to pri­ori­tise the pro­gres­sion of the Bund­aberg Mul­ti­plex, de­signed to serve as an evac­u­a­tion cen­tre for the re­gion, had also con­trib­uted to his stance.

Cr For­man was vis­i­bly unim­pressed by Cr Honor’s in­put as he called for any fur­ther com­ments at the re­cent meet­ing.

“I’d like to re­spond to that but I won’t,” Cr For­man said.

While Cr Honor was less than im­pressed, roads and drainage spokesman Tony Ricciardi backed the bud­get de­spite la­belling it “one of the hard­est bud­gets we’ve put though”.

Cr Ricciardi said there had been nu­mer­ous fights around the coun­cil ta­ble and ad­mit­ted his own port­fo­lio had suf­fered to al­low for the sew­er­age plant up­grade but said it was what Bund­aberg needed.

“I could see the logic be­hind it,” Cr Ricciardi said.

“To­gether with my (Roads and Drainage) GM, we ate hum­ble pie.”

Cr Ross Sommerfeld said the only way to in­crease the re­gion’s rate base was to in­crease growth which was only in­creased with ad­e­quate in­fra­struc­ture.

“Let me tell you, if you’re not go­ing to spend money you’re not go­ing to make money,” he said.

Cr For­man said the 4.63% rate rise would equate to an av­er­age in­crease of $2.14 per week.

He said the in­crease was “quite re­spon­si­ble” be­fore call­ing for the adop­tion of the 2015/16 bud­get.

While Cr Honor voted against adopt­ing the bud­get, the ma­jor­ity voted in favour. Cr Bush was ab­sent.

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