Rate changes in Boulia budget

The Boulia Budget was released this week, with changes to how rate discounts work. PHOTO: 401(K) 2012; flickr.

THIS month the Boulia Shire Council released its 2021-2022 budget and Mayor Rick Britton said its focus was all about the future, and in this philosophical shift came several changes to rates.

Cr Britton said the council had not increased rates and charges for rural and residential properties, but the council has decreased the discount for early ratepayers from 10 to eight per cent and the grace period for the discount will return to 30 days from the six-month extension given by the Boulia Shire Council over the past few years.

The reason for the decrease in discount given by Boulia Shire Council CEO Lyn Moore, was because “they were one of the few councils that still had discounts, and rates had been increasing across the state.”

She said that the grace period extension of six months was something that had been an initiative of the council to “help farmers” and will no longer be available to locals as according to the council, “there has been plenty of rain over the past two years”.

Cr Britton said council was actively refining the way they do business and, in this budget, reviewed the rating categories.

Cr Britton said after discount, the total rates payable on an average Boulia residential allotment with general rates, water, sewerage, and garbage charges will be $1,832.03.

“After discount, the total rates payable on an average Urandangi residential allotment with general rates, water, and garbage charges will be $1,392.61,” he said.

“Gross amount of rates from rural properties — there is no increase this year in the rate in the dollar charged.

Cr Britton said water charges have seen no increase, with the charge remaining at $683.

“No changes have been implemented on the cleansing rate; this charge will remain at $379,” he said.

“There has been no increase to the Boulia sewerage charge; this charge will remain at $482.”

He said the purpose of the changes in this year’s budget is in thinking about the future of the Boulia region.

“Not today or tomorrow, but the next couple of years, and also thinking about the framework we set for the future generations the next five, 10, 25 years ahead,” he said.

“We need to be proactively looking towards our future in tourism, trade and economic development, future mining endeavours, social amenity, and most importantly our people.

“The following major initiatives will take place during the 2021/22 financial year:

Boulia’s iconic Min Min lights will shine brighter thanks to funding from the Palaszczuk Government to renovate the façade of our tourist attraction’s heritage building including essential disability access upgrades, and flood damage works on shire roads for over $14.7 million for March 2019 and January – February 2020 events.

The Boulia Shire Council will spend $3,172,859 in the 2021/22 financial year on council roads.

Cr Britton said the expenditure is made of: shire road maintenance at $672,000, Road to Recovery (R2R) projects at $568,456, QRA Betterment Program, Bengeacca Creek Floodway at $1,398,403, re-sealing Tobermorey Rd (Transport Infrastructure Development Scheme (TIDS) at $300,000, town streets at $76,500, Outback Regional Road Group expenses at $52,500, Inland Qld Road Action Working Group expenses at $5,000, and signage (Works for Queensland 3 (W4Q3) at $100,000.

External funding sources will be utilised to fund this work with the balance of $1,056,000 coming from council revenue.

Cr Britton said it was interesting to note the actual revenue from rates is $1,485,000, “so the rates you pay are being funnelled back into the roads you need”.

“More needs to be done but we are restricted by the funds available.”

He said the Donohue Highway remains the only section of the Outback Way which is controlled, managed, and maintained by a local government council.

“The Donohue Highway – The Outback Way – will continue into the future as a consideration for council budget funding as this section is still deemed a ‘council road,” he said.

“This is an obligation which is a double edge sword: we need to keep our workforce and contractors employed and keep the road in a trafficable state, nut the ongoing cost to seal the remainder of the road and commence the re-seals is outside of our financial capability as a small council without assistance from other levels of government.

“We are working together with several departments both State and Federal to work a solution for the ongoing sealing and subsequent reseals which when completed will channel jobs and money into the Queensland economy.”

“Council will also be carrying over from the 2020/21 financial year the project of constructing a new residential building that an extension of time has been approved for due to issues outside the control of council.

Full budget documentation is available to view on council’s website.

Cr Britton said council is excited to be delivering you the works the 2021-2022 budget presents and are looking forward to seeing the results of this in the community.