By Deaire McMullen.
Deputy mayor Chris Thompson says planning is well underway as the Sunshine Coast Council prepares to implement the 2015 Council budget on June 25th.
In a press conference yesterday Councillor Thompson said Council would be meeting again next week to finalise the impacts of the budget on local policies and rates.
“We’ve just spent two days, Monday and Tuesday this week, in full budget workshops and we’ll have more of those in May,” he said.
“In total the headline numbers for the budget are, we’ve got a $5 billion asset base on the Sunshine Coast. We have a $600 million dollar annual budget.”
Cr Thompson said citizens were most interested in rates and whether the new budget would affect their already increasing living costs.
“Unfortunately I can’t tell you today how much rates are going to rise,” he said.
Last year’s budget saw a general rate increase of 5% and a focus on environmental sustainability.Another important aspect of this year’s budget Cr Thompson outlined was how to further improve economic sustainability.
When asked if he believed the Sunshine Coast could continue to survive solely on tourism, Cr Thompson said an important aspect of this year’s was a focus on how to improve economic sustainability.
“The fundamental challenge for the Sunshine Coast is to diversify its economic phase and that’s really the key driving force behind our regional economic development strategy,” he said.
“So we’re got health and well-being which we want to focus on, we have education, we have clean technologies and emerging technologies, we also have the building and development industry and then tourism as well.
“The more equitable spread of economic input, the easier it is to get through those hard times.”
The biggest focus for the Council this year appears to be on the capital works program, which utilises funding for new developments in local communities.
The program generally focuses on local improvements such as road upgrades, parking changes and pathway and park developments.
It is worth around $1,014 million annually and is a very significant aspect of the budget.
“We want to increase the look and feel of the Sunshine Coast through the capital works program,” Cr Thompson said.
A significant amount of money will also be used to fund more reliable drainage and pipeline upgrades, funded by the 2015 budget.
This is an attempt to protect local communities following the extensive floods that ravaged the local area in 2012.
By Deaire McMullen.