Mayor’s 2021-2022 Budget Speech

Change – every business goes through it. If they don’t, they don’t survive. Change needs to be viewed as an opportunity, an opportunity to improve efficiency in services while accepting that there could be the need for a different level of service as well. An opportunity to improve long term sustainability, because what has happened for the last 20 years has culminated to bring us to this point… the point of sink or swim – and we won’t be remembered as the team who decided to let the ship sink because we wouldn’t make hard calls.

This is what I said to community a couple of months ago and what I stand by today as your Acting Mayor.

Following bold and open conversations with our community, today Council has adopted a new Corporate Plan and tables a Budget for 2021-2022 that reduces our operating deficit by $2 million compared to last year.  We haven’t proposed huge rate rises or belligerent cuts to essential services.  This is a responsible budget, one based on providing a sustainable level of essential services to the community and getting the basics right.

As in all years, this budget is one that has been a challenge to balance, with many projects not able to be funded. In each and every budgetary decision we can put our hand on our heart and say that we have taken into account the aspirations of our community while ensuring we meet our legislative accountabilities, our commitments to maintain our $1.1 billion of assets and our financial sustainability for the long-term.

We have accepted the cards we have been dealt and forged a path to keep the dream alive.  We have made these decisions as ratepayers ourselves, knowing that any decision we make affects not just our community and constituents, but our friends, our families, and the future for our children.

We are still between a rock and a hard place, but we now have a clear strategic direction on what is important and that is:

  1. Essential Service Delivery – Getting the basics right
  2. Sustainable Communities – To retain population and attract investment
  3. Prosperous Future – To ensure economic growth for future generations

While the word disappointing is an understatement to the response we received from the Minister for Local Government, we as a team refuse to stick our heads in the sand and accept a deficit position into the future, we will work hard to balance the budget while supporting our community with essential service delivery.

This is a movement that the State Government will need to address sooner rather than later, and we will continue to lead the charge.

I would like to thank my fellow Councillors for all the time and effort that everyone has put into this budget.  It has been hard work and we are the lowest paid councillors in Queensland, managing our day jobs and responsibilities alongside these challenges.  So, thank you.

I would like to acknowledge the hard work and countless hours our staff have put into preparing the information in the lead up to this year’s budget. Done under what can only be described as trying circumstances for all involved, they have remained positive and dedicated to providing councillors with as much detailed information as possible and have gone above and beyond our expectations. I believe we have an exceptional group of executive staff who possess the skills and drive to enable and enact the changes necessary within the organisation to get started on the long road to sustainability.

The community have spoken and we have listened.  We need to run Council like a business, within the parameters we are given.  There are no gold and shiny projects in this budget.  It is about maintaining what we have, doing the right planning to ensure we continue to do this well and rationalising our service delivery to ensure our long-term sustainability.

Robbie Radel – Acting Mayor

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