Airport upgrades to keep up with growth
EMERALD airport is one of the big ticket items in the 2011/12 Central Highlands Regional Council budget, with $11m earmarked for further upgrades to keep pace with the region’s growth.
Road construction throughout the region swallows almost 25% of council’s capital works budget with $20m allocated.
Flood restoration funding will flow into council coffers to the tune of $40m across the four former shires for repair and restoration works.
General and utilities rates were kept to a minimum 3% rise, which was lower than the March consumer price index of 3.3%.
The proposed $54.65m rates windfall forms 23% of council’s expected income. Rural rates capping, a widespread and contentious issue over the last two years for council, has virtually been eliminated.
Only 28 large urban properties close to Emerald, a vacant block and three coal mines are now affected after new DERM valuations.
“The revaluations have had a significant impact,” said Mayor Peter Maguire. “Most districts realised a decrease in land valuations with the exception of Emerald, Blackwater and Tieri.”
The council defended its 17% hike in coal mine general rates as having to “carefully consider the impacts that these particular land uses are having on the ability of council to deliver desired levels of service to the community”.
The impacts included an increase in CHRC wage costs budgeted at $35.9m for the coming year in an “endeavour to compete with mine incomes”, increased staff turnover and accommodation difficulties.
The budget report also cited mining as having a detrimental effect on public infrastructure in terms of rapid deterioration.
“Further, significant mining activity (and higher personal incomes) results in reduced financial assistance grants because of the assumed additional revenue capacity of the region,” the report said.
The mining sector is also subject to the Peak Downs Mine rate for road and associated works which will generate $3.6m in revenue.