BUDGET: Council to spend big on new projects as rates rise by 3.9 per cent

DOUGLAS SHIRE BUDGET

Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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(L-R) Assistant Project Manager Glen Cannard, Douglas Shire councillors Abigail Noli and David Carey, Port Douglas Reservoir Project Manager Scott Hahne, Mayor Julia Leu, councillors Roy Zammataro and Michael Kerr at the soon-to-be operational reservoir in Craiglie. IMAGE: Supplied.
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RELATED:
 - Douglas ratepayers can expect 'modest' rate rise ahead of budget release


DOUGLAS Shire residents have again been hit with a 3.9% rate increase for the 2018/19 financial year. This was confirmed today when Mayor Julia Leu brought down the budget at a special meeting in Council Chambers.

The increase is consistent with the past three financial years. The rate rises imposed over the past five years are:

2014/15 = 5.2%
2015/16 = 3.9%
2016/17 = 3.9%
2017/18 = 3.9%
2018/19 = 3.9%


Total: 20.8%, an average of 4.16% per financial year.

In defending the hike, Leu said there will always be rate rises. 

“While we would all prefer not to have rate rises, it is something we think carefully about and the impact it will have on the rate payers. I do, however, consider this modest and our residents will benefit from the investments we are making over the next 12 months.”

She added that this financial year, Council had worked through several challenges, such as unexpected changes by the Queensland Valuer-General to rural land valuations.

“We have focused on minimising the impact of shire-wide land revaluations, including changes to the rural production category.

“Despite these land valuations, Council has been able to keep 75% of properties’ general rate increases at 3.9% or lower. For a residential 1 category that receives the minimum general rate and utilities charges, this equates to $2.22 per week. 

“This will allow Council to continue its investment in essential infrastructure and provide an impressive suite of fresh projects that heads a strong $16.49 million capital works program, the second highest on record,” said Leu.

She said major capital works investments over the next 12 months features significant infrastructure such as the $3m Noah Creek Bridge renewal, $1.3m Craiglie Reservoir roof replacement, $460,000 to repair the Sugar Wharf and $250,000 to refurbish the Flagstaff Hill Communications Tower,

“A significant $3.8m investment has also been earmarked to improve water security with $1.17m towards water reticulation works and upgrades to the water treatment plants for Mossman ($974,000), Whyanbeel ($140,000) and Daintree ($92,000). 


“This will allow us to move forward in water security, especially with the new Port Douglas Water Supply Reservoir Project which will be ready in a few months.

“Council will complete repairs to the Flagstaff Hill Walking Trail ($200,000), design a drainage rectification program for Ribbon Avenue ($120,000) and replace the decking on a pedestrian bridge at Hutchinson’s Creek ($115,000).”

Council has also invested in infrastructure that provides recreational opportunities. This is part of a handful of projects in community spaces that will boost Douglas Shire’s lifestyle and recreational appeal. They include:

 • A $145,000 off-leash dog trial for the northern area of Hutchins Park;
 
 • $40,000 towards a funding submission for Stage One of the Principal Cycle Network from Mossman to Cooya Beach;
 
 • Playground upgrades ($250,000); a new toilet block at Lou Prince Park in Cooya Beach ($100,000) and $150,000 to extend the Mossman Skate Park and build a pump track;
 
 • Council has committed $30,000 to complete a design of a zero-depth water park or nature play activities space in Port Douglas. It is envisaged as an activity precinct to rival Muddies Playground in Cairns. A possible location is unknown at this stage.
 
 • The feasibility of a solar farm at the Killaloe Landfill site will be investigated to boost the region’s environmental performance. This will reduce consumption; effectively manage waste and achieve reductions in energy and fuel consumption;
 
 • A new timber bridge decking will be installed across a creek north of the Daintree River
.


Other work includes the development of a new corporate plan for 2020-2014, the continuation of the economic development taskforces as recommended in the Economic Development Strategy, as well as the drive to establish a domestic and family violence refuge in the Douglas Shire. 


The budget papers revealed that more than $977,000 will be distributed to local organisations, businesses and individuals, including more than $481,000 for Tourism Port Douglas & Daintree (TPDD).

Council’s grants program includes the Community Support Program, the Business Development Program, the Events Funding Program and the Regional Arts Development Fund.

Council will continue to support Port Douglas Carnivale, Ironman, the Great Barrier Reef Marathon, NAIDOC Week, the Mossman Show, Port Shorts Festival and Taste Port Douglas, New Year’s Eve and Christmas in the Park.

 

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