‘Now and for the future’: long-awaited projects funded in council’s first $1b budget

Sunshine Coast Council has delivered its first billion-dollar budget, with the mayor saying the local government body was “managing our community assets for current and future generations”.

Foreshore transformations, traffic-busting road improvements, a new district library, world-class sporting precincts and preserving and celebrating the environment are key inclusions in the newly adopted 2023-24 budget.

Mayor Mark Jamieson said that despite the challenges the region had faced over the past few years, council was forecast to achieve a strong operating result of $24.6 million.

“This will enable continued investment in the capital program and repaying debt, while ensuring council remains in a position to continue to deliver for the community,” he said.

“We are maintaining our focus on fiscal responsibility, delivering services in a cost-effective and responsive manner and managing our community assets for current and future generations.

“We have also been mindful of the expectations of our community and the standard of services they seek from our council.

“We have focused on minimising the rate increase, and balancing this with the challenge of accommodating the increasing costs of delivering infrastructure and services.

“We are maintaining our focus on fiscal responsibility, delivering services in a cost-effective and responsive manner and managing our community assets for current and future generations.”

$2.8 million has been allocated to finalise placemaking and streetscape works in Eumundi Town Centre.

Cr Jamieson said the capital works program for 2023-24 would be $331 million.

“This includes support for a number of major long-awaited projects, some delivered with contributions from the state and federal government, that will vastly improve the way we move around the Sunshine Coast and give us easier access to business and lifestyle centres like Mooloolaba and Caloundra,” he said.

“Lifestyle, the beautification of our hinterland and coastal towns, and community connectivity are also going to enjoy considerable investment.’’

Highlights include:

  • More than $21 million invested in the region’s new district library at Caloundra, which is part of a vibrant creative community hub that will create a wonderful centrepiece for locals and help activate the vital coastal town and surrounding communities.
  • More than $21 million invested to upgrade the Nambour waste precinct at Bli Bli, to sustainably manage our future waste and take another step towards our goal to become a zero-net emissions organisation by 2041.
  • The Mooloolaba Central Meeting Place, a place where our community can gather, celebrate and connect with nature and each other, will receive an investment of $7 million.
  • The final section of the Brisbane Road upgrade in Mooloolaba will be built, between Kyamba Court and Tuckers Creek Bridge, thanks to funds totalling $5.5 million.
  • More than $5 million will flow to improve road safety and reduce congestion and advance the Caloundra Transport Corridor Upgrade.
  • A $6 million investment in a new attractive streetscape that will soon transform First Avenue, Maroochydore, into a vibrant, shaded and inclusive CBD, providing businesses, residents and visitors a more inviting space to live, work and play.
  • Almost $3 million to finalise placemaking and streetscape works in Eumundi Town Centre.
  • Beautifying Maleny’s main street and historic Landsborough’s streetscapes, along with and enhancing Mary Cairncross and the Maroochy Regional Bushland Botanic Gardens have also attracted significant funding.
  • Hinterland areas worst hit by landslips during last year’s weather events, including Bald Knob, Wootha, Glenview, Eudlo, Peachester, Montville and Maleny, will receive more than $40 million to rebuild and rectify damages thanks to the Australian and Queensland governments’ Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.
  • $24 million has been allocated to key sporting projects, including the evolution of the Honey Farm Road Sports Precinct, Kawana Waters Regional Aquatic Centre and expansion of Sunshine Coast Stadium.
The environment is front and centre of this year’s Budget, including improvements to the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve.

Cr Jamieson said council recognised that a number of residents were finding it difficult to make ends meet as cost-of-living pressures intensified.

“Council has worked hard to keep the minimum general rate increase for owner-occupiers to below CPI,” he said.

“The majority of owner-occupied properties will see a $1.42 per week increase in their general rate. This 5.55 per cent increase is below CPI.

“Anyone experiencing financial hardship can contact council before their rates are due and arrange a payment-by-instalments agreement over a six-month period to December 31, without interest being charged.”

The rates changes are:

  • Rates for the owner-occupiers on the minimum general rate – the majority of residential properties – will increase by $74 ($1.42 per week) to $1406.50 per annum – a 5.55 per cent rise.
  • The environment levy will increase by $2 to $82.
  • The Transport Levy will increase by $2 to $47.
  • The Arts and Heritage Levy will increase by $2 to $18.
  • A 240-litre wheelie bin service charge will increase by $27.60 to $360.30. This includes the $15 per tonne state government domestic waste levy.
  • Overall, rates and charges for the majority of owner-occupiers on the minimum general rate will increase by $107.60 to $1913.80 – or 5.96 per cent.
  • All eligible pensioners will benefit from a 7 per cent increase in their pensioner rate concession. Sole homeowners on full pensions will receive a $290 annual concession (up from $271 in 2022-23) and those with joint title to the property will receive a maximum of $227 per annum (up from $212). Those on part-pensions will also benefit, with their annual concession increasing to maximums of $145 and $83 (single and joint title), increasing from $136 and $77 last financial year.

Cr Jamieson said one of the greatest challenges both the community and council had grappled with recently was the many previous long-term rental homes and units now being used for short-stay accommodation.

“This has contributed to the longer-term rental shortage on the Sunshine Coast,” he said.

“And we are not the only local government facing this challenge – many long-term renters and communities across the world have felt the impacts.

“To remain consistent with other south-east Queensland tourism destinations, short-stay accommodation properties have been reviewed and benchmarked, resulting in rate increases comparable to those of other local government organisations.

“We wanted to encourage owners to leave properties in, or return them to, the long-term rental market.”

Property owners have the option to return their properties to the longer-term rental market and reduce their rates should they choose to.

Kawana Waters Regional Aquatic Centre and Sunshine Coast Stadium have received funding in the 2023-24 budget.

Cr Mark Jamieson said this year’s $1 billion budget demonstrated council’s unwavering commitment to shaping a stronger, better and more sustainable region.

“This is a budget that will deliver now and for the future, investing in projects that will enrich how we live, work and play,” he said.

“It will maintain the high quality of services our community deserves and enjoys and factors in the rising costs associated with materials and labour, a challenge facing industries, organisations and governments everywhere.

“The investments contained in this budget will secure jobs into the future, work to repair the impacts of extreme weather, encourage people of all ages and capabilities to be more active, help us better enjoy our wonderful outdoor lifestyle, and preserve our environmental assets.

“In developing the 2023-24 budget we have taken a thoughtful and balanced approach, minimising rate and levy increases to assist our community with the challenges associated with cost-of-living pressures.”

Article source: Queensland Property Investor

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