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Mayor's Column - Longreach Leader 2 July 2021

Published: 5th July 2021

This column first appeared in the Longreach Leader on Friday 2 July 2021.

One of the most important roles of the Mayor and Councillors, as your elected representatives, is that of budgetary oversight. It is a duty we take very seriously, and the delivery of our FY21-22 Budget this week marked the culmination of a process which began as early as December last year. 

Our entire team of dedicated staff work extremely hard in the preparation of each budget and this one is no different. They too are committed to delivering the best outcome possible for our communities. I thank them for their hard work and attention to detail. Every day our Council workforce delivers with anonymous distinction the many services that our community relies on.

The budget laid out in this week balances our sensitive financial position against our efforts to avoid disadvantaging our community. It is considered, strategic, and fiscally responsible. 

Our cash position will remain strong at $22 Million cash-at-bank by the end of financial year. A net rates increase of just 2.5%  and almost no increase in utilities result in a total increase in rates fees and charges of just 0.73%. We’re limiting the growth of our operational deficit to $5.5 Million, with a net positive result, after Capital grants, of $2.6 Million. Plus we’re delivering a capital program worth $15.4 Million, supported by $8.1 Million of grant funding.

Our budget also supports Council’s important day to day work in our community. Things like the $5.6M we’ll spend maintaining and improving town streets, storm-water drainage and rural roads. Or the $3.5M providing water and sewerage services, and the $3.8M maintaining Public Facilities like Cemeteries, Showgrounds, Parks and Gardens, Pools, Sporting Facilities, and Town Halls.

We’re also advancing a range of strategic projects such as our new Corporate Plan, our investigation into raising the weirs on the Thomson River, and the implementation of our visionary Thomson River Master Plan.

All in all, I believe this is a budget our community can be proud of, and I encourage you to make yourself familiar with it as we move into a new financial year.

The events of the past week call into relief how important it is that we maintain a fiscally responsible outlook. Things in our Covid disrupted world change quickly, and there is no telling what the future may bring. There will be both opportunities and unforeseen impacts, as the postponement of the Women of the World festival in Longreach demonstrates. 

Like many of you I was looking forward to all the WOW festival offered, but I’m sure our community can understand the reasons why it can’t go ahead right now. The exciting program of conversations, art, and culture, will go ahead at a later date, however. There has been an incredible amount of work put in to the development of the festival. I commend everyone involved and look forward to the day we get to see it all come together.

In light of the developing situation, it is vitally important that everyone in our communities who is eligible come forward to be vaccinated. Central West Hospital and Health Service are doing an outstanding job with the rollout in our region. The process has been mostly seamless and on behalf of the community I thank them for their efforts. 

Longreach will be hosting a first dose Pfizer clinic from Monday to Wednesday 12 – 14 July at the Longreach Civic and Cultural Centre. Please take this opportunity to be vaccinated if you haven’t received the vaccine already. Simply email cw-covax@health.qld.gov.au or call 1800 953 703 for more information.

As chair of the Local Disaster Management Group, I have been keeping up to date with the developing situation. The Premier and the Chief Health Officer have been convening regular updates for Mayors all over Queensland. At the time of writing, our disaster management group are fully informed, and we remain so at all times. The best way for you to keep informed is to visit health.qld.gov.au. You can also follow Central West Hospital and Health Service on social media to stay up to date with local developments.

Until next time, you can find email and direct phone numbers and email addresses for me and each of my fellow Councillors on our website at longreach.qld.gov.au/elected-members. If you want to know anything at all, reach out to one of us - or contact Council directly on (07) 4658 4111 (24hrs), or email assist@longreach.qld.gov.au

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