Tourism takes hit from budget cuts
Tourism appeared to be the loser in this year’s City of Karratha budget as the organisation made $753,396 in cuts after a rates dispute with the State Government.
A series of draft rates applications were knocked back by the Department of Local Government for being unfair to those rated for Transient Workforce Accommodation, meaning the City had to look elsewhere to make up the shortfall.
The cuts included scrapping $50,000 for a 50-year anniversary of Dampier next year with the City deciding to postpone seven years since the town was not gazetted until 1972.
A $72,000 initiative to develop Sam’s Island near Dampier lost $50,000 also, the major event’s scheme took a $50,000 hit as did the $650,000 budgeted for the Karratha and Roebourne visitors centres.
The biggest saving came from reduced insurance premiums of $301,712. Four new positions at the City were deferred, saving $171,684. The City would not comment on what these positions were.
City of Karratha Mayor Peter Long said they were committed to developing the tourism industry in the region.
“Council has increased the overall amount of funding for tourism this year through a range of projects including new walking trails, an overhaul of tourism signage and the revamping of tourism lookouts within the City,” he said.
“As part of this package, the same funding has been budgeted for visitor centres as was expended last financial year.
“While council is currently in a strong financial position, it is vital we continue to improve our capacity to fund future operations and renew infrastructure by way of additional productivity gains and savings, pursuing grants, working collaboratively with other organisations and carefully managing income and expenditure through the annual budget process.”
The total budget expenditure for 2015-16 is $126 million and includes $46 million for park and recreation facilities, $13.6 million to finish the airport terminal upgrade, $10 million on the Wickham and Dampier hubs as well as the effluent reuse scheme, $16.1 million on roads and drainage, and $22.3 million on events and community facilities.