By the Mayor of Toowoomba Regional Council Cr Paul Antonio
The 2014/15 Budget reflects a balance between sound financial management and this region's promising future poised on the cusp of significant infrastructure development.
However, with opportunity comes obligation. This Budget shows how Toowoomba Regional Council embraces these changes with prudent and responsible financial management. Our task, as a local government, is to provide the community's essential services in an economically responsible manner.
With $273 million allocated for operational expenditure, and just over $272 million for capital works, this Budget is a culmination of almost 12 months of carefully considered decision making.
Major project funding coming from state and federal government is a vote of confidence in our region.
By Finance & Business Strategy Committee Chair Cr Mike Williams
An organisational drive for further operating efficiencies has helped Toowoomba Regional Council keep below the rate of inflation in its across-the-board fees and charges in the 2014/15 Budget.
Council has managed to restrict the overall rates and charges increase to 2.6% on an average residential property with full Council services.
While the average general rate rise is 4%, Council has worked hard to keep rises in other fees and charges to a minimum and to adhere to the financial model approved by Queensland Treasury.
Council's Budget grows each year, and this year $273.1 million of operational expenditure, along with $272.3 million of capital works are included.
By the Environment & Community Committee Chair Cr Geoff McDonald
Capitalising on tourism and events opportunities across the region is at the forefront of this year's Budget deliberations.
The tourism industry has an exciting future and Council will continue to strategically support growth of this important sector.
Opportunities offered by sports tourism and the region's increasing connectivity to the rest of the world loom as the brightest lights on the horizon.
Council has allocated $50,000 to a Sports Tourism Event Grant Program that will ensure Council has the flexibility to look at opportunities as they arise for the betterment of the community.
By Customer Services Portfolio Leader Cr Anne Glasheen
Toowoomba Regional Council is committed to expanding and improving the options for customers to deal with Council across all its services.
Responding to residents' queries and providing consistent, informed answers is the cornerstone of efficient service.
Ready access to relevant information is the lifeblood of modern business and Council's Customer Service branch continues to provide multiple options for residents to contact Council and access services at their convenience.
The Customer Service branch monitors its processes and participates in quality control audits to ensure it maintains the highest level of service according to industry standards.
By Water & Waste Committee Chair Cr John Gouldson
Council's $93 million water and wastewater business continues on a determined path of asset and environmental improvement in this 2014/15 Budget.
Just under $56 million will fund water and wastewater capital works projects and a further $37 million will fund operations.
Some $18.6 million has been allocated to water infrastructure projects in this budget.
By Environmental Health, Parks & Recreation Portfolio Leader Cr Sue Englart
Toowoomba is Queensland's most family-friendly city and I strongly believe the many parks and gardens contribute to this well-deserved title. The same is true of every town across the Region. Every park contributes to the well-being of these communities.
The region has nearly 40,000 children with thousands more young at heart. No matter what the season our parks and gardens are well used by residents and visitors. Our playgrounds continue to provide fun and development for today's children as has been the case for over 100 years. There is significant cost to maintaining these facilities for residents.
Parks and Recreation has $23.8 million in operational expenditure over 2014-15 with $19.3 million allocated for parks and open space and $4.4 million for conservation and pest management including $250,000 on strategic firebreaks and $100,000 to be spent fighting pest invasions and the wild dog check fence.
By Library & Cultural Services Portfolio Leader Cr Ros Scotney
Toowoomba Regional Council will soon break ground on a significant project in my portfolio ... the new Toowoomba City Library.
This is a considerable project in terms of capital works within Council's overall budget with this year's contribution being $18.5 million for design and construction and is significant in terms of what it provides to the region as a whole.
In this age of information, libraries are more important than ever.
The library's records show the volume of loans has doubled in the last 18 years to more than 897,711 loans in 2013. The operational expenditure for library services across the region stands at just above $6.5 million.
By Planning & Development Committee Chair Bill Cahill
Toowoomba Regional Council is taking steps to ensure the region is well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities that come along with the massive infrastructure spending that is taking place.
One aspect of this is ensuring Toowoomba residents get "value for money" from the Planning and Development portfolio and challenging them to find better ways to do business.
One of the key projects to achieve this is the development of local plans in growth areas alongside the community, working hand-in-hand to achieve a better result for all. These are important planning tools to inform those who want to invest in these areas in the future.
By Development Assessment Portfolio Leader Cr Chris Tait
Toowoomba Regional Council is constantly looking to deliver better, streamlined services in the Development Assessment portfolio and there will be major strides in this area over the next 12 months.
Council has an integral role in the planning and development in our region, which in turn has a direct relationship with economic growth and employment.
This Council is aware that when information is difficult to access or approval processes take a long time, these is a direct impact on development viability and ultimately these costs are passed on to residents and rate payers.
By the Infrastructure Committee Chair Cr Carol Taylor
The Toowoomba Regional Council Infrastructure Services Group Budget for 2014/15 is a $212 million investment in the region's infrastructure and is made up of capital and operational funds.
Council will deliver $142 million of capital works projects as follows:
By Water & Waste Projects Portfolio Leader Cr Nancy Sommerfield
A review of Council's Waste Management Strategic Plan and planning for a network of expanded regional waste transfer facilities will be the major components of Toowoomba Regional Council's 2014/15 Waste Services Budget.
Council's current Waste Management Strategic Plan will be affected by the announcement that construction work is due to start on the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing in the coming year. The plan also is required to respond to aspects of the Draft Queensland Waste Avoidance and Resource Productivity Strategy 2014-2024.
Council will review its current Waste Management Strategic Plan largely in response to these developments in the coming financial year.
As a result, a key focus in the 2014/15 Waste Services Budget is the relocation of essential infrastructure at the Toowoomba Waste Management Centre (TWMC) at Bedford Street which will be displaced by the road corridor for the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing.