CONGRATULATIONS to councillors Clark and Ramage for voting against the budget as presented.
Asking councillors to vote on the final budget without their knowing how individual components were determined, was irresponsible. Voting on the budget the way it was presented, left councillors no other option than to accept the budget in its entirety without the opportunity to vote on those components comprising the budget, for example, the levy, water charges etc.
Some interesting facts relevant to the budget release include such comments that the increase is aligned to the CPI. Not quite true. The rate increase was 4% and the CPI was 3.1%. Notes attached to the budget showed that sugar cane producers would have rate increases capped at 15% yet other primary producers such as cattle and small crops would have their rate increases capped at 20%. Does that send a message to the region?
If Council had not rolled over on the issues of the NDRRA $10.8million debt, we would have seen a significant surplus this year.
In releasing the budget, mayor Jennifer Whitney commented that the rating in our region compared favourably across the state. Not so. Research by the WRRA determined that of 225 towns, Airlie Beach rates as the 5th most expensive area in Queensland, Bowen at 19th, Cannonvale at 32, Proserpine at 54 and Collinsville at 81. Every town in the Whitsunday region is rated in the top third highest rated towns in Queensland.
Council’s failure to release documentation previously sought by the WRRA has seen the matter now progressed to the Local Government Ombudsman, who has advised that the matter is currently under investigation.
Ross Newell PRESIDENT WHITSUNDAY REGIONAL RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION