Home owners to face rate increase of 67 cents per week
SOMERSET residents will experience an average weekly rate increase of 67 cents, following the council's budget hand-down.
Farms and small businesses will see an average rate rise of 2.5 per cent.
It forms part of Somerset Regional Council's $48.2 million budget, aimed at strengthening its sound financial management.
The council will continue to offer a prompt payment discount of 15 per cent on general rates and waste charges, representing a minimum saving of $169 per year for owner occupiers with a waste service.
Mayor Graeme Lehmann said the council had worked hard to maintain a modest rate rise while delivering effective and efficient services for the region's 26,000 residents.
"This is another responsible budget with a clear focus on supporting and enhancing our rural lifestyle by investing in infrastructure while maintaining affordable rates," Cr Lehmann said.
"It includes money for major projects like the upgrade of Gregors Creek Road, the biggest single road infrastructure project funded under the 2019/20 budget, and the Kilcoy Racecourse redevelopment.
He said the council was also investing in shared public spaces like parks, libraries, sports grounds, cycle paths and other community and cultural facilities.
"The focus remains on maintaining core services including pest and waste management; environmental initiatives; responsible pet ownership; public lighting, safety and amenities; emergency services; bridge and road renewal; tourism and events; Community Assistance Grants; and a continued commitment to the advancement of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail," Cr Lehmann said.
"We are building communities, and council more than doubles your annual rate dollars by securing State and Federal Government grants, investing wisely and staying true to a long-term vision for the Somerset region.
Cr Lehmann said he was proud to deliver the budget alongside his fellow councillors.
A $3.3 million upgrade of Gregors Creek Road is the biggest single road infrastructure project funded under the budget.
The council will contribute $1.6 million to the strengthening and widening project as part of a $9.2 million investment in rural roads.
Another $3.8 million will also go to bridge renewal works in areas including Atkinson Dam, Moore, Buaraba and Linville.
Sustainability is key feature of this years budget, Cr Lehmann said.
The 2019/20 budget features more than $1 million for environmental initiatives, including the installation of rooftop solar plants at nine key community facilities.
Cr Lehmann said an additional $550,000 had been allocated for pest animal and weed management.
"Council is leading an innovative and responsible community-wide approach to environmental sustainability," Cr Lehmann said.
Community and council facilities are major winners under this year's budget.
$2.5 million has been allocated to public parks, with another $1.1 million to cycleways and the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail, and $860,000 to tourism and events.
The focus on outdoor recreation continues with council spending almost $1.4 million to acquire land adjacent to Fernvale Sports Park and Kilcoy Racecourse to cater for future growth, and more than $600,000 will go to managing swimming pools, indoor sports centres and other community facilities.
Cr Lehmann said the budget delivered for local communities and would attract more tourists to the area.
"This is a budget that builds communities, and council continues to invest in projects, plans and programs that benefit locals and visitors alike," Cr Lehmann said.