Small rate rise and big projects focus of Council budget


Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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Douglas Shire Mayor Julia Leu with the 2019/2020 Council budget. Image: DSC.

In expressing that Council is looking after the interests of the Douglas Shire community, Mayor Julia Leu said she was proud to announce that a 1.8 per cent rate increase was “the lowest for as long as I can remember”.

In bringing down the 2019/20 budget at a special open session at Council Chambers today, she added she was equally delighted to report that “we aim to report an operating surplus of $179,332 this time next year”.

The 1.8 per cent rate hike means that for a residential 1 category that receives the minimum general rate and utilities charges, this equates to an increase of $1.15 per week. There is also a 2.5 per cent rise in utility charges, which includes water, sewerage and waste.

Another highlight of the budget is over the next 12 months, Council will inject a further $15.34 million worth of projects and plans to achieve about 40 operational initiatives.

The budget, unanimously approved at the meeting, was a triumph for Cr Leu vindicating the decision to de-amalgamate from Cairns Regional Council in 2014.

“Reaching financial sustainability has been this Council’s number one priority and I am immensely proud that we have been successful in achieving that priority.

“In 2013 the forces against de-amalgamation said: ‘we would go broke, never get any grants and not survive on our own’. Well, I am thrilled to say that we have proved them wrong,” said Cr Leu.

Cr Leu said in the past four years, Council has delivered three record capital works programs and shaken off loan borrowings to achieve a debt-free status.

“We have persevered through many challenges, highlighted recently by one of the toughest wet seasons experienced for some time,” she said.

Tourism and events will receive an $810,000 injection over the next 12 months, securing the operation of promotional powerhouses Tourism Port Douglas Daintree (TPDD) and Port Douglas Carnivale.

Cr Leu said Council is investing in the future. “We are also laying the foundations to grow sports and recreation with fresh focus on lifestyle projects, public spaces and streetscapes will give back to the local community.”

In the capital works programs, $100,000 has been allocated to flagpoles in Port Douglas and Mossman; $145,000 for a dog park and $100,000 for the design of waterpark options in Port Douglas.

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