31 May 2013Budget targets basics and tighter spendingTownsville Mayor Cr Jenny Hill today handed down a focused budget for 2013/14 that targetspriority services and infrastructure and winds back council spending.The mayor presented the budget with a 3.9% rise in general rates to a special meeting of counciltoday and it will be formally considered at a special budget meeting on June 28.Key elements of the $554.2 million budget include no new borrowings, a $19 million reduction ofthe debt to free up interest payments to fund front line services, and a projected $721,000surplus.Mayor Hill said the proposed budget was a responsible financial plan for tough times and woulddeliver the city a strong economic result in the face of rising costs and slower rates of growth.“The budget I’m proposing funds our priorities to maintain the city’s great lifestyle, but also makeshard decisions on spending just like the rest of the community is doing,” Cr Hill said.“Preparing this budget has been made harder because of sharp increases in costs, particularly forelectricity and insurance, and the council’s on-going financial obligations in servicing the city’sdebt which will stand at around $355 million at the end of 2012/13.“Despite these pressures, the budget has acknowledged the need to minimise the impact onratepayers as we did last year with a 1.9% increase which was one of the lowest in the State.“I have taken a tough approach in developing this budget to ensure the least possible increase inrates; however, I have still endeavoured to include priorities put forward by Councillors.The budget invests $180 million in capital works for construction and upgrade of roads, drainage,water and sewerage infrastructure, and parks to safeguard the city’s lifestyle.Other highlights include the mayor’s election commitments for a citywide kerbside rubbishcollection, but once every two years instead of every year because of the belt tightening, and arecreational plan for Castle Hill.Big financial hits on the budget this year include a $5 million increase in depreciation, $1.8 millionincrease in electricity and insurance costs, $1 million in lost State funding, lower council revenuegrowth, and a $5 million payment over two years to the Port of Townsville as a contribution to theCruise Ship Terminal.Cr Hill said securing $5 million in funding from the Federal Government for urgent works on theTownsville Entertainment and Convention Centre had been a positive for the budget.The 3.9% rise in general rates is the equivalent of a $1.11 a week increase for a property with atypical valuation of $160,000.
Utilities charges for water and sewerage will rise to meet increased operational costs of the newNorthern Water Treatment Plant and Mount St John Waste Water facility and are in line withprojected price schedules approved by council last year.Overall rates and charges with all utilities – water, sewerage and waste and recycling, willincrease 5.3% or $3.15 a week for a property on a fixed water allocation.“The simple reality is the growth forecasts of around 2.4% when the last council borrowedhundreds of millions of dollars for infrastructure works for the city’s expansion, have been lowerthan expected and revenue from new development has been down accordingly.“This has placed more pressure on current ratepayers to foot the bill and the impact of this hasbeen around $5 million on the council’s bottom line.“The council budgeted for a more realistic 1.8% in revenue growth in 2012/13 to achieve abalanced result and we will take that same responsible approach in this budget with a 1.7%setting to achieve another strong financial result.“To reduce the burden on ratepayers we will continue with tighter financial managementmeasures to target spending where it is most needed.“That has meant deferring or dropping projects that are just not priorities for the community.”Mayor Hill said the budget’s $180 million capital works program was at the same level as last yearand focused on the city’s basic building blocks.
2013/14 City Budget at a glance3.9% rise in general rates on average owner occupied property• General rates on a typical property with an average valuation of $160,000 will increase$57.60 from $1,480 to $1,537 or $1.11 a week.• 15% early payment discount still applies to general ratesOverall general rates and utilities charges for water, sewerage and waste will rise 5.3% or $3.15 aweek.WaterThe fixed price for the standard water plan (772kl allocation) rises from $681 to $714. Excesswater charge of $2.74/klWater Watcher fixed service charge rises from $310 to $325. Kilolitre rate rises from $1.24 to$1.30.Sewerage$701 to $759 to meet increased operational costs for the new Mt St John Treatment PlantWaste$224 to $239 and includes a city wide kerbside rubbish collection.Townsville’s combined rates and charges were the fifth cheapest of the 15 largest councils inQueensland last year (based on 400kl annual water usage) and will continue to be among thelowest water and waste charges in the State.
31 May 2013Finances, services number one priorityA successful campaign to secure $5 million from the Gillard Government for urgent works on theTownsville Entertainment and Convention Centre had lessened the impact on rates, Mayor CrJenny Hill said.“This is work that must be done to keep the entertainment centre functioning and without securinga personal commitment from the Treasurer in Canberra it would have fallen back on ratepayers,”Cr Hill said.Cr Hill said the budget’s tougher approach this year was in line with expectations in thecommunity.“Residents are making hard decisions at home to make their finances go further and the councilhas to do the same to reduce the impact on rates,” Cr Hill said.“The big spending on infrastructure following amalgamation and the increased debt which atalmost $380 million when this council was elected, has set the city on a long financial path thatwe must carefully manage.“Through responsible financial management we have found efficiencies and savings in thebudget, but at the same time ensured that front line services are maintained and are the priority.”A $500,000 upgrade of the council’s website and $16 million for new office space are amongareas that have been dropped.The council has also saved potentially tens of millions of dollars in capital works at the ClevelandBay Treatment Plant after negotiating a new environmental licence with the State Government.Discussions are continuing with the government over necessary upgrades at the plant which areexpected to cost much less than earlier estimates of $60 million.The council’s debt was reduce by $20 million in the current financial year and is projected tocome in at around $335 million at the end of 2013/14.Fast FactsSavings and efficiencies• $1.8 million in saved interest payments through cutting $19 million in debt• $500,000 in efficiencies from integrating parks services with construction and maintenance• deferral of $16 million for acquisition of new office space• deferral of $500,000 for a website upgrade
31 May 2013Bulk rubbish pick-up for residentsToday’s budget includes a bulk kerbside rubbish collection to remove rubbish and potentialmissiles from backyards in the city.Mayor Cr Jenny Hill said the initiative was following through on an election commitment but wouldbe staged over two years rather than annually because of the tight budget environment.“There is a need in a large city like Townsville where we live with the threat of cyclones to beproperly prepared and the kerbside collection is a way to reinforce that message and to removepotential hazards from neighbourhoods,” Cr Hill said.“Since the introduction of the carbon tax illegal dumping has also been on the rise in localgovernment areas and it’s something that needs to be addressed.“A kerbside collection provides a convenient alternative to residents in addition to the six freedumping vouchers the council provides ratepayers each year.“The kerbside collection was an election commitment but I realise that finances are tight and forthat reason I’m proposing to carry it out over two years instead of annually.“That enables us to keep the cost down and include it in the $239 utilities charge for wastemanagement.“The waste charge includes the $8 per household cost of providing the collection but the levy willcontinue to be among the lowest in the State.”
31 May 2013Hill plan to better manage city’s iconThe development of the recreational strategy to better manage use of Castle Hill is a feature ofthe 2013/14 budget handed down by the Mayor Cr Jenny Hill today.Cr Hill said $60,000 had been set aside for the plan which would engage the community in thefuture management of the hill.The budget also includes $216,000 to provide a safe walking area for recreational walkersbetween Paxton Street and the hill.“It’s great to see the hill becoming so popular but that extra pressure on the hill’s facilities andtracks needs to be managed in a sustainable way,” Cr Hill said.“An important part of this planning is to get extensive feedback from people who use the hill,visitors to the city and the broader community.“Castle Hill is an icon owned by the people of Townsville and they must have a say in its future.“The development of a management plan that includes input from the community will provide uswith the basis for longer term management and development of facilities on the hill, particularlythe tracks and the lookouts.“This will also include consideration of the future of the Panorama House site.”
31 May 2013Big focus on renewal of city’s infrastructureThe 2013/14 budget invests heavily in the essential building blocks to support the city’s lifestyleand growth with a $180 million capital works program.Mayor Cr Jenny Hill said the budget would ensure the city’s roads, drainage, parks, water andwaste water infrastructure, landfills and community facilities were being renewed and upgraded tosustain the city’s growth.Roads and transport will again be a major focus of the capital works program with $30 millionincluding reconstruction, reseals and overlays of 114 streets.Another $15 million in NDRRA funding will be spent to finalise a two-year rebuild of the roadnetwork following three destructive wet seasons from 2010 to 2012.The budget also allocates $7 million for stormwater and drainage, $3.5 million for replacement ofkerb and channel in 14 streets, $18.1 million to continue to expand and upgrade the city’s waterinfrastructure and $24.2 million on waste water capital projects.The budget also includes $5 million in funding to carry out urgent works on the TownsvilleEntertainment and Convention Centre.A further $6.3 million has been allocated for capital expenditure in parks including $1.3 million torenew playground equipment and $1 million on park renewals.“Investing now to renew and upgrade basic infrastructure means that we save the communityfrom more costly reconstruction and repairs down the track,” Cr Hill said.More than $100 million in Federal Government disaster relief funding (NDRRA) has been pumpedinto fixing roads in Townsville on top of the $80 million the council has allocated to roads projectsover the past two years.While the NDRRA work will be completed this year, the council budget will continue to focus onkeeping the road network maintained with projects in a range of suburbs.A total of $13.2 million will be spent on capping and environmental rehabilitation of tip areas thathave reached their capacity at the Hervey Range, Stuart and Jensen landfills.Fast FactsRoads and drainage $30 million for local roads plus $15 million in Federally funded NDRRA repairs $7 million for stormwater and drainage including: $5.3 million on upgrades to undergroundstormwater drains in locations including West End, South Townsville, North Ward, RailwayEstate, Garbutt, Cranbrook, Townsville City, Mysterton and Pimlico $3.5 million to replace kerb and channel in 14 streets $1.6 million in road safety works including traffic signal upgrades, signage, footpaths,school zones and general traffic improvements
$130,000 refurbishing flood mitigation pump stationsParks - $6.3 million $1.3 million for play and support equipment renewals $2.4 million on irrigation network and water saving initiatives $1 million on park renewals and upgrades $630,000 for fencing, furniture and lighting $60,000 for a dog off-leash areaWater - $18.1 million $9.82 for construction and replacement of water mains $1.5 million on refurbishment of Houghton pump station and Douglas treatment plants $1.3 million for valve automation on the Mt Spec pipeline $900,000 for design and start of construction of 22 ML reservoir at Mt Louisa $880,000 on refurbishment of reservoirs across the cityWaste water - $24.2 million $1.5 million for design of upgrade at Cleveland Bay Treatment Purification Plant $5.4 million to commence odour control works Cleveland Bay Purification plant $5.2 million for construction and rehabilitation of sewers, includes $2.25 million for stage 2of southern suburbs trunk sewer $1.8 million on treatment plant renewals $1.8 million for pump station upgrades and renewals $1.5 million on the upgrade of Lotus Glen pump station and rising mainWaste Services $13.2 million for capping, installation of electricity for gas flares and monitoring,infrastructure upgrades at city’s landfills.
31 May 2013Combined maintenance budget to benefit cityThe upkeep of Townsville’s 330 parks will benefit from a $46.5 million maintenance servicesbudget for public infrastructure in 2013/14.Parks services has merged with the council’s maintenance services division in InfrastructureServices to provide a better use of resources to parks, maintain public open spaces, roads andthe city’s drains.The maintenance services budget includes funding for mowing and cleaning of parks, mediansand road verges, pot hole repairs, clearing of drains and maintaining bridges.This year’s budget includes an additional $500,000 to specifically boost parks mowing andweeding.Mayor Cr Jenny Hill said the merger would allow for the better coordination of crews from the onedivision.“Having all of the council’s major maintenance activities under the one roof means that crews canbe deployed to carry out a range of different tasks at the same time,” Cr Hill said.“We will see a saving of around $1million in the 2013/14 budget as a result of this merger and onthe feedback from councillors $500,000 is being directed back to boosting mowing and weedingin parks.“Our parks and public areas are the at the centre of our great outdoor lifestyle in Townsville andkeeping them in good shape is extremely important to the city’s civic pride.”The city will also undertake a major greening campaign of the city with the planting of 10,000trees to replace plants lost during Cyclone Yasi.The trees will be replaced through the Federal Government NDRRA funding in streets, parks andopen space.Fast FactsMaintenance Services - $46.5 million maintain parks and open space, road verges, medians, street trees, cleaning littercollection clearing stormwater drains roads maintenance, including pot hole repairs coastal assets including boat ramps and stinger netsGreening campaign Federal NDRRA funding to plant 10,000 trees citywide to replace plants destroyed inCyclone Yasi.
31 May 2013Budget invests in city’s lifestyleThe budget prioritises services and programs for the community in 2013/14.“I’ve ensured that within a tight budget we are funding the services, facilities and activities thatsupport the great lifestyle we enjoy in Townsville but without any significant increases,” Cr Hillsaid.“That includes maintaining our parks and recreational facilities in good shape, and properlyresourcing events, safety measures, and environmental programs to promote a vibrant andhealthy lifestyle.“It’s also extremely important to provide residents with access to entertainment, cultural andsporting activities equal to anywhere else in regional Australia.“Safety in public places is crucial and the council has allocated $1.7 million for security patrolsand CCTV. This year, following discussions with the chair Healthy and Safe City Committee, CrGary Eddiehausen, the council will undertake a review of the CCTV coverage to achieve the mostcost effective service for the community.”The budget also maintains support for our pensioners with one of the most generous concessionsin the State on general rates and subsidies on transport fares.Fast FactsWaste and recycling $6.75 million for kerbside domestic/commercial collectionsSafety and security $1.7 million for security and surveillance. A review will be undertaken this year with afocus on CCTV to provide more efficient coverage $766,000 for lifeguards $866,000 for aerial mosquito spraying program $356,000 for six stinger netsSupport for pensioners $5.14 million in pensioner concessions on general rates $350,000 in pensioner bus subsidiesCommunity and culture $1.4 million for year-round calendar of events $1.87 million in community grants Big calendar of events at city’s galleries and theatres $1.1 million for library programs and activities $900,000 for the development of a digital library collectionIntegrated Sustainable Services
$1.2 million for the management of Townsville’s natural resources $1 million (includes Federal funding) for Carbon Cycle and energy management -reduction of electricity costs and introducing sustainable energy use across council $333,000 for the Creek to Coral partnerships with community groups $220,000 for coastal management $162,000 on land protection
31 May 2013Major projects to continue in cityThe start of construction on the $25 million Townsville Recreational Boating Park and thecompletion of the Jezzine Barracks redevelopment are major project highlights in 2013/14.Work will also start on the $24 million Blakeys Crossing upgrade, which the council is deliveringfor the State Government, and the $5 million urgent upgrade of the Townsville Entertainment andConvention Centre will be completed.Mayor Cr Jenny Hill said the big projects would improve lifestyle opportunities for Townsvilleresidents.Cr Hill said the boat park would go a long way towards addressing the drastic shortage of boatramp and associated facilities in the city.“Boating is a very important part of the lifestyle in Townsville for so many residents and the newboat park will create one of the best facilities of its type in the State,” Cr Hill said.“I’m also excited about the completion of the Jezzine Barracks redevelopment which will open tothe public next year and provide the community with a wonderful new recreational area.“The flood proofing of Blakeys Crossing is an important project that will ensure Ingham Roaddoesn’t cut off every wet season. The council is extremely grateful to the State Government forfully funding the project.”The budget has an allocation of $2.9 million to commence work on the boat park project which isa joint initiative of the Townsville City Council, the Department of Transport and Main Roads andthe Port of Townsville and has a five year delivery timetable.Stage 1 consists of the development of trailer and car parking areas with the construction of twofour-lane ramps funded by the State Government.Jezzine funding was provided before the redevelopment commenced and the FederalGovernment is funding the repairs to the Entertainment Centre.Fast Facts$2.9 million to commence work on Stage 1 of $25 million Townsville Recreational BoatingPark (TRBP).Completion of the $40 million Jezzine Barracks project. The project will establish a coastalscenic walk, including a 240-metre boardwalk and interpretative signage highlighting thearea’s indigenous and military history, parklands at Mitchell and Cook Streets and aparade ground plaza.Blakeys Crossing - a $24 million project funded by the State Government to fix InghamRoad at Blakeys Crossing by upgrading flood immunity through the construction of twonew bridges.
$5 million upgrade of the Townsville Entertainment and Convention Centre funded by theFederal Government. The work will include major works on air-conditioning system andrepairs to the flooring and seating.
31 May 2013Providing leadership for city’s growthPlanning for Townsville’s future growth and incentives for economic development are keypriorities in the 2013/14 budget.Funding of $250,000 has been allocated for the completion of the city’s new planning scheme,which will include a city-wide consultation program before its adoption.Today’s budget also provides $785,000 for key economic and promotional groups in the cityincluding $744,000 funding for Townsville Enterprise Ltd (down from, $789,000).The funding for Townsville Enterprise includes $25,000 in special project funding to lobby for anew sports stadium for the city.Cr Hill said the tough budget environment meant funding had been reduced slightly for TEL.“While funding for TEL has been reduced to reflect the very difficult economic climate we’re in, thebudget still maintains a strong level of support to promote economic development in the city,” CrHill said.“In addition to support through TEL and other peak groups, the council will also continue toactively engage the business and development communities to encourage and attract newenterprises and projects to the city.“An example of this is the work the council is doing to secure development of both the TAFEcollege site and the railway north yards and the incentives that we have provided to fast-forwardnew projects in the CBD.”Fast Facts $250,000 completion of the new Planning Scheme $785,000 funding for economic and promotional groups including:Townsville Enterprise LtdNQ Small Business Development CentreMount Isa Townsville Economic ZoneNorth-west Outback Queensland Tourism AuthorityTourism Operators and Business Magnetic Island $200,000 key strategic projects including a business case for the combined stadium,event and entertainment centre.