GRC's budget lays a foundation for the future

GRC Mayor, Cr Graeme Scheu, centre. File pic.

GRC Mayor, Cr Graeme Scheu, centre. File pic.

Ratepayers across the region have cause to welcome the new Council budget but there's a note of caution as well.

The general rate rise will drop below two percent - if ratepayers make use of the discount period - however Council has increased the cost of potable water from $1.28 per thousand litres to $1.41.

It's an indication water is becoming an issue for most councils as the drought continues to bite.

"As I'm sure residents are aware, our water resources are under particular pressure in the current circumstances," Goondiwindi Regional Mayor, Cr Graeme Scheu said on Monday.

"Despite this increase, the Goondiwindi region remains significantly cheaper than many other councils in the area. It is likely that some form of restriction is to be introduced in the immediate future as Council looks to extend the life of the existing supply," he said.

Cr Scheu said what form water restrictions may take will be discussed at the next Council meeting.

"It's been discussed over the past few months but the time has come for Council to look seriously at what options will best minimise the impact on residents."

Cr Scheu said while there was no "big ticket" projects for this financial year, the Budget laid a solid base for the next council.

Local Government elections take place in March 2020.

Cr Scheu has indicated he will not be standing for re-election.

"The last four years have seen Council achieve many wonderful projects and improve the facilities and services across the region. The Goondiwindi region is celebrated as a great place to live, work, visit and invest. It's why Bernard Salt declared Goondiwindi as Queensland's most liveable town and why our region is known as Regional Australia at its best.

"This year, Council has managed to apply a general rate rise of 1.98% after the early payment discount and is working towards a deficit of $314,702, in line with long-term forecasts. We believe this to be a very reasonable target in the current economic climate.

"I understand that some residents may be facing financial pressures and I would encourage those residents to contact our rates staff early to discuss potential payment arrangements," he said.

Goondiwindi Regional Council Mayor, Cr Graeme Scheu says the budget will lay a "solid base" for future councils.

"The current Budget will see approximately $20 million of external funding brought into the region through major contract works and government grants and subsidies," he said.

Expenditure - Waste

"One major change to our region that has been carefully reflected in the Budget is the introduction of the Queensland Government Waste Levy from 1 July 2019. The levy will require drastic changes to how we handle waste in the Goondiwindi region.

"Council must put in place processes to collect $75 from every tonne of commercial waste sent to landfill and, as a result, I urge all businesses to review the way that they manage waste to minimise the impact of this levy. It is a good opportunity for everyone across the region to take stock of the waste that they generate and perhaps to source alternative methods of waste management.

"As a result of this state levy, we must implement changes to the waste collection facilities that Council manages across the region. New waste transfer stations will be constructed in Bungunya, Talwood, Toobeah and Yelarbon at a cost of more than $1 million. A new $860,000 waste transfer station and weighbridge will be constructed at Inglewood. Around 75percent of this cost will go back to our community through local contractors and tradies.

Water: Over the next 12 months, Council will deliver one of its largest investment programs in water infrastructure. Projects include: Talwood reservoir expansion and plant works $1,010,000, Yelarbon reservoir expansion and pressure works $1,030,000, Texas treatment plant $ 530,000, Inglewood treatment plant $ 440,000, Goondiwindi filter replacements $665,000 and water main replacements $500,000.

Other capital projects: Council will continue its investment in essential infrastructure with an impressive suite of capital projects. Roads remain a key focus for Council; major capital works investments over the next year will include $950,000 for the continued sealing of Goodar and Daymar-Weengallon Roads and $400,000 for shoulder works on Minnel, Talwood-Mungindi and Riverton Roads.

Council will also spend $350,000 on drainage and levee repair works in Goondiwindi and $880,000 on the Yelarbon Sewerage system.