BUDGET: What your rate bill will look like this year
RATES freeze, a major "special event" and a new park are just three decisions approved at this year's Lockyer council budget meeting.
Lockyer Valley Regional Council handed down its 2020-2021 budget this morning, with the major focus on expenditure and a surplus in revenue.
The major highlights of the budget include a "zero per cent" rate increase for Lockyer Valley residents, a park for Fairways Estate and a "major event" for the region.
Mayor Tanya Milligan said the budget includes an operating revenue of $58.5 million, of which rates make up about two thirds.
"This is in addition to a $19.2m capital program and a surplus of $2.057m, which allows for the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic," Cr Milligan said.
"In regard to our long-term financial forecast, it really does demonstrate that this council remains focused committed and passionate about ensuring we are well placed in the years to come.
"It could have been very easy to blame interesting times we live in, but im exceptionally proud of councillors and staff because we have remained solid, we knew where we wanted to go and what our vision was."
Council will also pay down another $1.959m in debt, reducing its outstanding debt to $19.94m.
Rate won't be hit with an increase in their rate bills this year.
In the budget hand-down, councillors welcomed the rates freeze, and Cr Milligan said some rate payers would receive a reduction.
Cr Milligan said the rates freeze was done without any reduction to core services provided to the community.
But when questioned, Cr Milligan didn't specify what any non-core services entailed.
Rural residential residents will receive the biggest change in rates with a -2.31% change, while urban residential residents will receive a -. 063% reduction.
Pensioners will still receive their discounts on top of the rate freeze.
Early bird payments will continue to receive a five per cent discount.
"We aimed for a zero per cent rate rise this year, it's not premature, but bravery and visionary," Cr Milligan said.
Councillor Chris Wilson, who has the finance portfolio, said the budget and its decisions was one of the most difficult budgets for council to prepare, especially with COVID-19 impacts.
"The whole COVID-19 pandemic presented challenges to everyone, and council as well, but an easy excuse for council would have be able to use that as an excuse to drop back to where we used to be," Cr Wilson said.
"We didn't choose the easy option; we made some difficult decisions. We've just got to achieve it now."
The long-awaited Fairways Estate playground will have $1.6m thrown at it to deliver the first regional playground in the Lockyer Valley.
The three-stage development will first include amenities and a playground for small children.
Councillor Janice Holstein was excited for the project, and said council was grateful for state and federal funding to make the project possible.
"All up, it's going to be a huge park for the future and down the track there will be sporting fields," Cr Holstein said.
"Starting off, we'll develop a park so mums can take their small children out."
Cr Holstein described the park as a "nature park" using more than timber and iron to create a regional-level park.
"They will have the facilities they are currently lacking," Cr Holstein said.
"I don't think we've done a park on that scale before."
Major special event for the region
Cr Milligan was tight lipped on what the event will be but said there was plans in the pipeline for a weekend-long event to boost tourism in the area.
"If I told you, it wouldn't be a secret," Cr Milligan said.
The date or timeline is yet to be determined for the new event, but Cr Milligan said it would depend on councillors, discussion and "how big the dream was".
"We have talked about a signature event. Part of that signature event is do we look at the events we already do, and how are they working, let's review those, is it adding on to an event we've had for a long time and make it bigger," Cr Milligan said.
"It's great to have people come to your region but you want them to stay more than a day. Wouldn't it be great to have a weekend event that brings visitors out from the city?"
How the numbers work
Recurrent revenue: ($58.80m) which includes rates ($39.98m) grants ($9.05m), fees and charges ($3.75m), other revenue ($5m) and interest ($1.02m)
Minus recurrent expenses ($56,74m), which includes employee costs ($25.35m), materials and services ($17.85m), depreciation ($12.33m) and finance costs ($1.20m)
It leaves an operating surplus of $2.06m.
Budget at a glance
Administration, customer service and public safety: $14.09m
Planning, plumbing and building: $3.75m
Footpaths and cycleways: $0.89m
Economic Development and Community Services: $5.26m
Parks, Gardens and cemeteries: $5.10m
Road and drainage related programs: $28m
Health and regulatory services: $1.23m
Disaster management: $0.94m
Community facilities and sport and recreation grounds: $8.57m
Environmental planning and pest management: $1.41m
Community grants and support: $0.61m