BUD­GET HITS THE ROAD

Coun­cil to start road­show across Whit­sun­days early next week

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Inge Hansen

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;

Spend­ing snapshot;

Rates and charges ex­plained; and

Road­show de­tails.

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

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