How much you can expect your rates to rise
SOUTHERN Downs residents can expect to pay 2.75 per cent more in rates in the coming financial year, but the council's overall fiscal outlook is the "best since amalgamation" according to Southern Downs mayor Tracy Dobie.
Compared with the 4 per cent increase that was predicted in the council's 2015 long term financial forecast, the 2.75 rates hike was "not bad going" the mayor said.
"This is the second time we have been able to bring it down from the projected increase," Cr Dobie said.
The Southern Downs Regional Council's draft 2018/19 budget was published ahead of Wednesday's general council meeting, revealing a predicted $322,000 drop in budget surplus as the council suffers a $5.9 million loss in capital grants.
Despite a predicted $802,000 rise in overall expenditure, Cr Dobie said the council had made enormous headway in its financial management.
"We are improving in our ability to put in really good grant submissions and also the way we are managing expenditure much better than we have in the past," the mayor said.
After being listed on the Queensland Treasury watch list for financial management, the council has implemented quarterly budget reviews in attempt to its reduce its debt, which currently sits around $22 million.
"We have been forced to tighten up operations," Cr Dobie said.
"We have now for the first time since amalgamation have restricted cash reserves. We actually have money in the bank that is ear-marked for specific outcomes."
The council expects to reduce its debt by $1.56 million in the coming financial year and will not borrow any money.
SDRC CEO David Keenan said the council was performing better than in previous years following a risk assessment conducted by the Queensland Audit Office into the council's long-term financial sustainability.
"Long term financial sustainability is a key focus for this council, because it cements council's ability to continue to invest in services and infrastructure throughout the region," Mr Keenan said.
He added that it was the first time since 2013 that council has received an QAO assessment with no "red" indicators.
Warwick business owner Robyn Fraser said she was confident in the council's financial performance.
"I think they are doing all and more than they told us they would do," she said.
"They have obviously reduced the debt which is really good."
Mrs Fraser said the council had conducted itself in an approachable manner.
"People should feel they can approach any of the councillors and discuss things."
Cr Dobie said she was seeking feedback from the Southern Downs community on the draft 2018/19 budget.
The draft budget will be open for public consultation for a period of 28 days from April 3.
The council will also host a number of information sessions will be held across the region.
FORECAST EXPENDITURE INCREASES
Buildings: Up $885,000
Saleyard improvements: Up $175,000
Community Facilities: Up $823,000
Plant, machinery and equipment: Up $1,932,000
Travel: Up $245,000
FORECAST EXPENDITURE DECREASES
Roads, bridges and footpaths: Down $2,378,000
Parks & Open Spaces: Down $1,220,000
Land: Down $465,000
Waste Water: Down $918,000