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