LOCKYER Valley ratepayers are set to pay an annual $30 levy towards preparing for future natural disasters, it was revealed as council handed down its budget on Monday.
The January floods devastated the region and claimed at least 17 lives, with Lockyer Valley mayor Steve Jones saying they were now placed "in an unusual position"; of an operating budget deficit for the first time in many years.
Monday's budget announcement also revealed a 4.98% general rate increase, with Cr Jones saying the budget of $186 million was a record for the council with most of the funding ($108 million) committed to repair the enormous damage to regional infrastructure.
Cr Jones said council was aware of residents doing it tough in the region after the recent disasters which was why increases were kept to a minimum.
"Keeping rate rises low is a huge achievement for council given the enormous damage to our infrastructure from the flooding this year, but we understand that it's not just council that is doing it tough,"; he said.
Cr Jones said the previous strong position of the council budget had been adversely affected by many external factors which would necessitate the budget going into deficit, but was confident the region would bounce back.
"The focus on restoring and refurbishing assets will produce longer term financial benefits for the short term pains of the next few years,"; he said.
Cr Jones said the rate rise equated to about $1.05 a week which was "much less than the price of a cup of coffee";.
In formulating the budget, council had to consider a range of factors including the impact of the floods, which included fluctuations in the property market which impacts the amount of development in the region and the total amount of developer contributions received by council.
A reduction in land valuations in the flood affected parts of the Lockyer Valley region was also cited as a contributing factor as was council costs for road infrastructure.
The $30 flood levy will help council fund initiatives such as a Community Disaster Management Training Centre and exercise program, research into an Early Warning Network messaging Project (SMS messaging project) and the implementation of the recommendations from the Queensland Commission of Inquiry's interim report, including research in to the installation of river gauges.
$5.25m aquatic centre
Council will inject $5.25 million into the Gatton Aquatic Centre development from its 2011-2012 Budget.
The modern aquatic centre, to be housed at Cahill Park, will feature a host of state of the art facilities including a 50 metre, 10 lane international standard pool, enclosed program pool and possible water play areas.
Mayor Steve Jones said the centre would be a huge drawcard for the region.
"Both pools will be heated to allow for residents to have year round use,"; Cr Jones said.
Boost for Laidley
The Laidley Cultural Centre will receive a $200,000 boost which will include a new function room roof, air-conditioning of the function room and new canteen facilities, all in recognition of the centre's increase in usage.
Construction of the Laidley Multi-purpose Community Centre is also set for a boost after the facility scored a $5 million funding injection, which will include a single indoor sports court, meeting and club rooms, new gymnasium, food preparation facilities, amenities and a new grandstand to view external sports fields.
Laidley businesses will also be better protected, with council committing $220,000 to install a CCTV camera network.
Parks and gardens
Council will inject $380,000 from its budget into improving the state of the region's parks and gardens.
Centenary Park: Pathways $50,000
Dawson Phipps Park: Barbecue, lighting and shelter $40,000
Laidley Skate Bowl: Jumps and improved safety $10,000
Lake Apex Park: Picnic shelters with barbecues $20,000; skate bowl extensions $50,000
Littleton Park: Pathways $20,000
New bus shelters
The safety of Lockyer Valley school children will continue to be a focus for council, which will contribute $400,000 to eight local schools for new bus shelters.
Cultural Centre boost
The Gatton Cultural Centre Precinct development is set to receive a boost from the 2011/2012 Budget, with council committing "a significant investment"; into the project.
Set to encompass a 150 unit motel and a 30 unit student accommodation building, the project is being developed to address the region's severe lack of accommodation.
The funds will go towards road and infrastructure works to ensure the site is ready to be developed.
Lockyer Valley Mayor Steve Jones said council hoped the development would attract eager investor interest into the region.
"This is a major project for Council and will no doubt be very beneficial for the community,"; Cr Jones said.
$3.5M for recycling
The incentive for Lockyer Valley residents to recycle just got even better with construction underway on a new Materials Recovery Centre.
Over $3 million will be spent constructing the centre at the Gatton landfill which will increase the capacity of Anuha Services to recycle material.
The project is a collaboration between Lockyer Valley Regional Council and Anuha services with funding received from the Federal Government through the Australian Government Jobs Fund.
Council has allocated $900,000 in its 2011/12 budget as a contribution to the project while $2 million has been provided by the Federal Government with Anuha also making a contribution.
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