Creating a highly liveable city that is attractive to investors and visitors is the focus of Cairns Regional Council’s 2017-18 Budget.
CRC’s fifth consecutive balanced budget is accompanied by a below-CPI rates and utility increase and a comprehensive capital works budget.
With investment in lifestyle-enhancing projects throughout the region, Mayor Bob Manning said this year’s Budget carried broad appeal.
“Through the results of the Our Cairns survey, we know that residents place a high value on our natural assets and being able to enjoy our environment through recreational activities,” Cr Manning said.
“With that in mind, we are investing nearly $70 million in capital projects that contribute to the recreational, sporting and cultural landscape of our region.”
“They form part of a $169 million capital works program that also includes significant investment in critical infrastructure, roads, safety and city amenity.
“More than $94 million will go toward building, servicing and maintaining our water and wastewater networks.
“Further to that, we’ve committed $20 million over five years to install smart water meters to every water connection in the Cairns region – an outcome of the Cairns Water Security Strategy.
“Part of being a liveable city is having a connected community. We are spending $1 million over the next five years to ensure visitors and residents alike have access to free Wi-Fi in a range of public locations.”
The Budget also provides $3.5 million to finalise a new CBD Master Plan and commence its implementation. The initial focus will be on Florence Street fronting the Parklands, CPAC and the new Aquarium – an area in which new development has been concentrated.
It has been estimated that for every $1 million Council spends, 10.8 jobs are created.
“This year, we will invest $367 million in the region through resources, materials and services associated with capital projects, maintenance, renewals and services,” Cr Manning said.
A $3 million contribution to the region’s peak tourism body and a further $2 million to support major events and economic development initiatives will help to grow the regional economy.
“We’re also supporting our community through $1.6 million in community grants across cultural, events, community development, sporting and sustainability programs.”
A general rate and utility costs increase of 1.75 per cent remains lower than CPI, with forecasts suggesting rates will remain at or below CPI for the next decade.
“Once again, we have kept rates low to maximise the value to ratepayers,” Cr Manning said. “This consistent approach to rating is the result of diligent financial management and a commitment to efficient operations within Council.
“We have successfully built a culture of doing more with less.
Benchmarking has shown us that our ratepayers continue to pay less than most others in Queensland, while our council also has among the lowest levels of debt per capita.
“A further benchmarking exercise will be undertaken in the next few weeks and we expect this trend to continue.”
Council is expected to finish 2016-17 with an operating surplus of $7.3 million.
2017-18 Budget at a glance
- Council has delivered a balanced Budget with a total operating expenditure/revenue of $294m
Low Rate Rise
- General rate increase of 1.75%, which is below CPI
- Utility charges increase by 1.75%
- 99.6% of ratepayers to receive an increase of 1.75% or less
Broad Capital Works Program
- Total Capital Works Program worth $169m
- $43.7m to complete CPAC
- $34.5m spend on roads and transport
- $37.9m on water, sewerage and waste infrastructure
- $22.8m on sporting and recreation infrastructure
- Focus on lifestyle-enhancing projects
Stimulating the Economy
- $367m will be spent in the community on resources, materials and services
- $3m to support tourism industry and initiatives
- $1.5m to support major sporting and cultural events
- $422,000 for economic development initiatives