It's an exciting time to be part of the Toowoomba Region and Council continues to deliver on our 2014-2019 Corporate Plan.
The financial year ahead will be characterised by responsible spending in order to meet the critical needs of our community.
This is a budget that uses our strong financial position to enhance services to our residents and seize the opportunities before us.
This budget can best be described as:
View the full budget in the meeting minutes: (vn) Special Meeting of Council - 19 June 2015 - Unconfirmed Minutes.pdf
Watch on for the highlights of the 2015/16 Budget and what it will mean for you. We look forward to working with you to make the Toowoomba region an even better place to live, work and play!
Council has allocated $32 million for the provision of new and replacement water and sewerage infrastructure across the region including the continuation of work on the new Pittsworth Wastewater Treatment Plant, the extension of sewerage networks in Kingsthorpe, Gowrie Junction, Westbrook and the Toowoomba Enterprise Hub at Charlton.
Roads are at the heart of our community as every journey, whether it is moving freight to markets, kids to schools or exports to ports, begins and ends on a local road.
One of the biggest challenges facing all Councils, irrespective of their size, is how to fund these vital infrastructure projects and the Infrastructure Services Group will spend more than $145.3 million including $82 million on capital funding throughout the Toowoomba region.
Council will continue to establish a positive environment in which the broader community can prosper, but also protect the lifestyle that we enjoy today.
To accomplish this Council will undertake the biggest community planning exercise in Queensland. Imagine Tomorrow is a series of community engagement activities to seek out the community's views about their hopes and aspirations for the Toowoomba Region.
Council plays an integral role in ongoing development and investment in our region, which in turn affects economic health and growth of many industries.
Council has a number of incentives programs on offer to encourage specific types of development. These take a variety of forms. We have incentives that target new developments through the reduction of infrastructure charges and others that offer cash incentives for the refurbishment of heritage buildings.
The Toowoomba region is becoming a destination of choice for a growing number and style of events and attractions.
More than 1.7 million visitors enjoyed stays in the region in the past year. For every Toowoomba region resident, we have on average 10 visitors per year. Council will work to foster our tourism and event offering to boost our visitor numbers and keep them in our region longer. This has many flow-on effects for the regional economy.
Our region is recognised as a leading example for horticultural excellence with Toowoomba recognised as the Garden City of Australia. Significant resources and expertise are assigned annually to ensure that visitors and locals are afforded the highest quality park and recreation experiences. More than $40 million has been allocated in capital and operational budgets to our treasured parks and recreation services across the region. These valuable recreation and bushland areas are used every day by residents and are key sites that host many of our major tourist events and activities.
Education is a critical factor in driving the Council's long-term strategies to build a better regional economy, fed by innovation, technology and research.
Our major investment in this area is the new Toowoomba City Library which will be a lively community focal point for learning and meetings. The Library and Stage 1 of the Civic Square project will be completed in the coming financial year. The 2015-16 capital allocation for the new Library is $17.96 million. The total project cost is $27 million.
This is the 8th Budget I have had the honour to speak to as chair of Finance and Business Strategy.
Toowoomba Regional Council has been on a journey over the past seven years to shape the organisation to deliver the services our ratepayers require and the infrastructure to allow the region to grow. I am proud to say that we have an organisation that is financially robust and rated by our bankers, the Queensland Treasury Corporation, as “sound with a neutral outlook”.
Council is continually looking for ways to make the resident experience with us more accessible with a focus on getting the results they want in a fast, efficient manner.
Council is continuing to seek improvement and increase efficiency and the quality of our services. We are about to approach a major milestone in one million interactions through our customer services team.