Noosa Councillors have delivered a freeze on rates notices as part of a “grassroots-style” $125 million budget that strives to guide residents and business on the COVID-19 road to recovery.
About 80 per cent of Noosa ratepayers will receive no increase in their total rates charges, in recognition of the severe impact the pandemic has had on the community.
“This has been an extremely difficult and challenging budget,” Noosa Mayor Clare Stewart said.
“We have reduced a number of levies to offset the CPI increases in the general rate and the three-bin waste collection charge to help ease the burden on household budgets,” she said.
The Waste collection charge increases by $6.50, while the environment levy is reduced by $14, the sustainable transport levy by $7.50 and the heritage levy drops $5.
“We have been very frugal in where we spend money to ensure we deliver what the ratepayers expect,” she said.
“By putting residents and businesses first with a financially responsible budget, I’m confident that we are well placed to not only recover but come out even stronger than before,” she said.
The additional support for COVID-19 recovery has resulted in a forecast operating deficit of $1.8 million for the 2020-21 financial year. Council’s financial plan shows a gradual return to an operating surplus position in 2023.
“We have meticulously reviewed our expenditure and tackled this challenge head on, to mitigate the direct impact on ratepayers while continuing to invest in services and infrastructure,” Cr Stewart said.
The budget features a $27 million capital works program which includes projects funded from the State and Federal Government COVID stimulus packages.
“We are still delivering roads, new bridges, and community-based projects and maintaining a strong commitment to the environment,” she said.
“Despite the challenges of COVID, we are again spending about $56 of every $100 in general rates we receive directly to either maintaining, replacing or building roads, bridges, pathways and other community infrastructure.”
There are over 55 capital projects to be delivered across the Shire this financial year.