This will be the sixth budget Livingstone Shire has brought down since Livingstone residents regained their independence and is a budget focussed on consolidation.
The necessary and deliberate strategies of previous budgets was to regain economic momentum lost through amalgamation. There was also a subsequent imperative for reconstruction of existing and major new infrastructure following Tropical Cyclone Marcia.
Those well-focussed strategies enabled Council to set a clear vision for our future and secure over $120 million in State and Federal funding to help deliver more than $200 million of critical trunk infrastructure and focussed job-creating economic development projects.
These projects ranged from strategic road infrastructure like Panorama Drive and Statue Bay reconstruction to tourism infrastructure, foreshore redevelopments, The Gateway Business and Industry Precinct, Stage 1 of the Capricorn Coast Homemakers precinct as well as major sports facilities and shire-wide community parkland upgrades.
With the benefits of these major projects now starting to flow through, the Council's focus for the 2018/19 budget has turned to consolidation. This will be reflected in a greatly reduced level of capital works programs compared with the previous extraordinary capital spending made possible by the welcomed injection of much needed State and Federal grants.
In listening to the community, Council has ensured that the budget's overarching broad direction continues to deliver the highest possible levels of service while keeping rates and utility increases as low as possible. This will be reflected in an average increase for most residents of 3.3% on their combined general rates and utility charges.
The budget will also reflect Council's focus on the recommended streamlining of organisational structures to realise greater operational efficiencies and the effective capping of future borrowings to progressively reduce debt.
The draft 2018-2019 budget is the culmination of months of extensive workshop between councillors, senior management team and key departmental officers to bring down another fiscally responsible budget and ten-year forecast for our Shire's long-term financial sustainability.