BUDGET HITS THE ROAD
Council to start roadshow across Whitsundays early next week
WHITSUNDAY Regional Council has adopted its 2016/17 budget and is bringing the results to a township near you.
Starting next Monday, councillors will conduct a budget roadshow in Cannonvale, Proserpine, Bowen and Collinsville – explaining their decisions around spending, water billing and rates.
See pages 4–5 for our special budget coverage including:
A budget overview;
Rates and charges explained; and
WHITSUNDAY Mayor Andrew Willcox has made his message clear – the Whitsunday Regional Council is “unified”.
At a special meeting in Proserpine on Friday, the council unanimously adopted its 2016/ 17 budget. In contrast to previous years, there was no infighting or cat-calling across the table and motions were passed 7/0.
In fact, Division 5 Councillor Dave Clark said this was the first budget he had voted for in four years.
“I never thought the previous ones were reasonable,” he said.
Despite facing hurdles while preparing his first ever budget, Cr Willcox praised the work of all councillors, the ex- ecutive leadership team and senior staff for tackling the “difficult process” of creating a fair budget.
“I am proud my councillors have quickly embraced working as a team to ensure we deliver the best outcomes for the future of our diverse region,” Cr Willcox said.
“To sit on our hands and wait for the other levels of government to deliver is simply not an option for any of us that sit around this table.”
The 2016/17 budget has delivered some pleasing outcomes, including a 0% increase in average residential rates and an overall 2% increase in rates across all rating categories – with bigger business to foot the bill.
“It was the key objective of this council to keep the rate in the dollar on properties the same across the Whitsunday region,” Cr Willcox said. “It follows then that (on) land with a $130,000 valuation, be it in Bowen, Collinsville, Proserpine, Airlie Beach or Cannon- vale, owners will pay exactly the same rates of $1495.”
Cr Willcox also promised to deliver increased remission on rates for pensioners. This means the majority of pensioners will receive a $350 concession, which is an in- crease of $50 from last year. Cr Willcox said council had listened to the community’s cries on water and granted residential ratepayers the choice of two different methods of water billing.
In September and October, residents can decide whether they’d like to remain under the current two-part tariff water billing system or switch to the allocation system.
Cr Willcox also announced a strengthening of the partnership with Tourism Whitsundays, who will receive an increased funding of $450,000.
CEO of Tourism Whitsundays, Craig Turner was over the moon with the decision and said it would help in the growth of tourism across the Whitsundays.
The mayor and his team will tour the region next week for the 2016/17 Budget Roadshow, allowing ratepayers to ask questions and become better informed about what the budget means for them.
FIGURES AND FUNDS: Councillor Ron Petterson, Mayor Andrew Willcox and councillors Jan Clifford, John Collins, Dave Clark, Peter Ramage and Mike Brunker, will take the Whitsunday Regional Council 2016/17 budget out to the community on a budget roadshow next week.
UNIFIED: Councillors Peter Ramage, Jan Clifford, Ron Petterson, Andrew Willcox, John Collins, Dave Clark and Mike Brunker
were all smiles after bringing down the 2016/17 budget. Photo: Sharon Smallwood