Moreton Bay Regional Council has just handed down its 2021-22 Budget. Here’s what you need to know about infrastructure spending, capital works and rates.
Council today handed down a $743 million budget that will deliver a record $245 million in capital works to propel the region’s economy forward and keep locals employed.
That’s $25 million more being invested in infrastructure than last year and more than half of that $245 million (54 per cent) will be invested in building new community infrastructure, in addition to the $117 million allocated to building renewals and upgrades.
An average total rates bill will increase by about $1.20 per week (3.9 per cent).
Mayor Flannery says keeping rates low, while spending enough to “keep our resurgent economy charging” is a difficult balance against a backdrop of complicated pressures resulting from COVID-19.
“We do not take this lightly, in fact it was the most important consideration with regards to the increase in required revenue,” Mayor Flannery says.
“In Moreton Bay region, rates account for 50 per cent of our revenue. I’m proud to say that not only have we minimised the rate rise, we’ve also retained all of the rebates that are paid to pensioners.
“That includes the $250 rebate for full pensioners and $100 rebate for part-pensioners that we introduced in the last year.”
Mayor Flannery says the heart of this year’s Budget is behind the headline figures.
“This year we’re going to be doing things differently off the back of our landmark Moreton Says survey - the largest community engagement exercise ever undertaken in our region,” Mayor Flannery says.
“Locals have resoundingly and almost unanimously told us that they want Council to approach regional planning differently and to increase both environment and lifestyle protections as our population continues to grow.
“We will action this feedback immediately, starting with a top-to-toe overhaul of issues like neighbourhood planning, carparking ratios, growth management and a review of building heights in areas of concern.
“To ensure locals can stay up-to-the-minute on every single development, plan, and strategy that impacts their property and our region - I can announce that we are developing an interactive region-wide planning map to be launched this year.
“This is an unprecedented commitment to transparency and community engagement with regards to planning, which has been a major complaint from locals, so I’m proud to lead a group of Councillors with the resolve to step up and fix some of the issues of the past.”
Mayor Flannery says there’s no denying the region’s road networks are already congested and significant investment is needed before developments such at Caboolture West occur.
“That’s why we have continued to work with the State and Federal Governments on projects like Young’s Crossing, the Moreton Connector and the alignment for the West Moreton Arterial and ensuring we plan for the future,” Mayor Flannery says.
“Council’s own Capital Program for 2021-22 invests $124 million or almost 50 per cent into transport projects. This includes investment in Old Gympie Rd - of almost $20 million.
“We will also commence construction on Henry Rd in the coming months to ensure that we increase its flood immunity and allow people to get home from work quicker.”
Mayor Flannery says Council will be finishing the intersection upgrade of Boardman and Klingner roads and completing almost $5 million in road rehabilitation and intersection upgrade at Beeville Rd, Petrie.
“I am pleased to see that we will again increase funding for the gravel-to-seal program for those people in our region who still drive on roads that aren’t sealed,” he says.
“This financial year, we will invest another $1.3 million in completing a further 5.2km.”
Mayor Flannery says he’s proud to announce Council’s second biggest allocation of funds this year (after roads and transport) is for local parks and our environment, with a $61 million investment.
“This is in direct response to the concerns of residents about the impacts of development, so we’re increasing the regional infrastructure environment charge from $84 to $90 per property this year to ensure we can continue to purchase and protect sensitive environments,” he says.
“Last year, we bought 4.1ha of habitat in Clear Mountain. We currently have another 3.9ha under contract in Caboolture and this financial year we will plant at least 148,000 new trees.
“It’s clear we need to do more to ensure Council’s services align with the needs and priorities of our community, so we will be developing a new corporate plan,” Mayor Flannery says.
Council’s new strategic direction will be built around five pillars:
A number of community engagement activities are being planned, so the new Corporate Plan can commence on July 1, 2022.
Mayor Flannery says this is proactive planning for the future that will ensure greater community buy-in on Council’s decisions.
“This year we will build on the foundations laid in 2020 with the launch of our new Regional Economic Development Strategy (REDS) by delivering a breadth of visionary projects to address tomorrow’s challenges today,” he says.
“Our objective is to put Moreton Bay Region on the national map, by attracting major investment and jobs growth to sustain future generations to achieve our ‘Bigger, Bolder, Brighter’ targets.
“We’ve already commenced this ambitious agenda by taking long-awaited projects out of the ‘too hard basket’ and making them a reality.
“Like the construction of a new $68 million Youngs Crossing Bridge which will start in 2022 thanks to a contribution of nearly $33 million from the Federal Government and a commitment from the State Government to secure another $10 million.
“Most importantly, we went back to the drawing board on this project to redesign and realign this bridge, so that it now reflects the feedback we received from our community.
“This is a prime example of how this Council is not only working to improve our relationship with governments but also working to improve the trust residents have in their Council.
“There is no denying or avoiding the significant growth pressures Moreton Bay Region faces but this Budget rises to the challenges of tomorrow with the confidence of knowing there’s nothing we can’t achieve together.
“Just as we are responding to COVID-19 together, today we begin the next stage in Moreton Bay Region’s transformation together.”