Reducing debt ‘pays off for ratepayers’: Deputy Mayor
PAYING down the Noosa Council’s de-amalgamation debt over the past six years has put the shire in a stronger position to withstand the COVID-19 big hits to the economy.
That’s the belief of Deputy Mayor Frank Wilkie who has described Friday’s $125 million Noosa budget as historic with “a shire-wide focus with tight, financially responsible limits”.
“Each year’s budget brings opportunity for great projects that improve the lives of those who live and work in our community.
“And despite the difficulties wrought by COVID, this year is no exception.
“The key objective was to deliver the same level of service for residents and ratepayers as in previous years,” Cr Wilkie said.
He said thanks to state and federal stimulus funding packages there will be improvement of works on halls, roads, footpaths and facitlites across the shire,” he said.
These include projects that respond to the needs of the most vulnerable “such as the building of a new Shine crisis accommodation facility for women and children fleeing violence and a laundry, showers and toilets to be used for those without homes” at United Synergies in Tewantin.
“While many councils struggle with deficit budgets every year, because of COVID we’re facing our first, but in a resilient financial position thanks to practices outlined in a non-mandatory, proactive financial stability policy adopted shortly after de-amalgamation,” Cr Wilkie said.
“This has allowed council to build up this community’s cash reserves through returning successive surpluses which have been used to halve the debt inherited at de-amalgamation.
The deputy mayor said the move had massively increased the council’s capacity for borrowing should it ever be needed.
The other option, he said, was to spend more out in the community rather than on interest repayments.
“It’s fair to say with the uncertainty there’s still difficult times ahead,” he said, “but if all goes well and with conservative budgeting it’s intended to return to surplus sooner rather than later.”
The $27 million capital works program features will include Peregian’s new community centre – part of the third stage of the Rufous St precinct.
Mayor Clare Stewart said: “The $1.8 million allocated this year will enable us to start building the community centre and the adjoining park,” the mayor said.
“We’re investing more than $2 million to replace Cooran’s Tablelands Rd bridge and Kin Kin’s Wahpunga Lane bridge with new double-lane concrete bridges.
“The funding, part of which the federal government has provided, will see these ageing single-lane timber structures upgraded.
“Tablelands Rd is a main road and Wahpunga Lane provides access to significant forestry and fire trails, so it’s an important investment in bushfire resilience,” she said.
Cooroy has $1.78 million earmarked for sealed road resurfacing work and Cooran has $616,000 allocated to upgrade roads.
Pomona will score works for the Pomona Memorial School of Arts Hall and new pathways along Station Str and Subway Ave.
As well a $900,000 slope stabilisation project will get underway at Sunrise Beach to bolster Sobraon St from landslip risk.