The Goondiwindi Regional Council has released its Budget for 2020/21.
A key feature is the creation of a COVID-19 Community and Economic Relief Package.This will target available financial assistance to the industries and community groups who have been most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mayor, Lawrence Springborg, said this was a whole-of-region package. It has been purposely designed to keep cash flowing locally and to ensure our community across the region can continue to thrive," he said.
The council has also secured nearly $9 million in additional external funding from the State and Federal Governments for roads, water and community infrastructure. "This will both secure and create jobs within the region," Councillor Springborg said.
"Council's procurement policy ensures that all goods and services up to $2000 are bought locally where available and we have temporarily lifted this limit to $5000 to increase our local spending to further support local businesses," he added.
"I firmly believe that the role of local government is one of service: to deliver our core responsibilities to ensure the Goondiwindi region is a great place to live and raise a family. I am therefore delighted to be able to confirm that the 2020/21 Budget will include a $2 million upgrade to the Goondiwindi swimming pool. I know that this particular project has been eagerly anticipated and will be welcome news to residents in Goondiwindi and the many smaller towns who access the pool. This is an investment not only in the region's liveability and advantageous lifestyle, but in the future of our tourism sector and visitor economy."
In addition to this, the council has increased its community grants and donations program to $441,000 for the financial year. "This will help support those community groups who do so much for our region, but who may be feeling the pinch due to the impact of COVID-19 and drought," Cr Springborg said.
A further $2 million is committed to maintaining and upgrading parks and gardens across the region, which will include park equipment and facility upgrades and town beautification.
The council will also halve all planning and development fees for the new financial year. "We want people to know that when they approach council with an idea, a plan for investment, a plan to expand their business, or to build or renovate their home, that council will help to make that venture happen."
Councillor Springborg said this Budget was prudent, and a considered response to the current circumstances, with the scope and forethought to ensure the region continues to develop as a thriving regional centre.
"I fully understand the challenges that many in our region will be facing with the ongoing drought and, more recently, with COVID-19. It is, of course, your council's job to guarantee that hard-earned ratepayer money is carefully and wisely re-invested towards our region's future. This is why council will introduce a responsible average rate rise of 1.7 per cent.As stated, I strongly believe that the planned expenditure outlined above will energise local spending within our economy while helping businesses and community groups across the region who need it most: from Riverton in the East, to Weengallon in the West and all areas in between - not just Goondiwindi," the Mayor said.
"The first few months of office for the new council have certainly presented obstacles that nobody would have predicted at the start of the year. This Budget is one that I believe will fairly and sensibly direct the region through these challenges, while creating opportunities and scope for our region to grow."
The total operational expenditure for 2020/21 will be $37.9 million. Once again, Goondiwindi Regional Council will remain debt-free for the 2020/21 financial year - one of just a few councils in the state able to do so.