Councillor costs slashed in budget
A FULL breakdown of Southern Downs Regional Council’s 2011-12 budget was released yesterday.
Comparing it with last year’s budget estimations, councillor costs are down in the coming year’s budgets compared to what was estimated in last year’s.
The 2010-11 budget suggested our elected officials would cost us $824,250 this year while this year’s budget allocates them just $741,556.
It is estimated to shoot up 17 per cent next year as a new council could be elected and could require more training.
Residents who use Kital Rd Bridge will be pleased to hear $300,000 have been put in the budget for the crossing, although council will receive a subsidy for the work.
Berat Spring Forest Rd crossing has also been allocated $500,000 for works there.
The $20,000 a year carpet replacement program appears to be continuing in the budget.
One big ticket item for the south of the region will be a community mausoleum.
Hours of officers time and design fee has already been spent and though budgeted for $693,000, the project should more or less fund itself as clients buy themselves a spot in the facility.
At huge cost to council is the improvement works at waste transfer stations because of state government changes to industrial waste charges.
This means a weigh bridge has to be installed in the region’s south and $800,000 will be spent on the Dalveen/Summit transfer station upgrade.
The big fear for this expense is that if the government changes, there’s no guarantee the legislation will still pass.
Plant replacement has always been a thorny issue with a new Plant Committee set up through the year to make decisions on what should be replaced after several heated debates in the council chambers.
This coming year $3.634 million will be spent on plant, including a $260,000 grader and a 9-16 tonne truck at $185,000.
Tourism will be given $459,000, which will go mainly to the two local tourism organisations to help run the visitor information centres in Stanthorpe and Warwick while the economic development unit will spend $656,755 on strategies such as food security and a technology hub in Stanthorpe.
Flood recovery undoubtedly made the biggest dent in the budget with $17.565 million allocated just to flood damage repairs to the road network.
Council is still waiting for its final flood assessment, to learn how much federal government money it will receive, and whether it will be able to attract contractors, so these figures could be subject to significant change. $2.1 million will be spent on library programs.