Coast?s $2.2m a day

By YVONNE McLEAN

THE Gold Coast City Council's budget brought down last week puts it in the league of the "big spenders" as it adopted with enthusiasm and confidence a document demanding $813 million to fulfil wide-reaching plans in the 2005-2006 financial year.

This is a catch-up budget, geared to a program of works lagging behind, and delivering a multi-list of individual councillors' wishes.

This is a document displaying no timid approach to borrowings - one that will commit council to spending $2.2 million every day on essential work.

The budget brought down by fledgling finance committee chairman Cr Rod Molhoek calls for an all-over rates hike of 6.4 per cent.

The general rate struck was $0.003929 cents in the dollar.

Based on the unimproved capital value of land and using the minimum UCV of $140,000 as a guide, the minimum general rate goes up from $522 to $550.

Most owners of units will pay a general rate of $575 (those with higher UCVs will of course pay more, some much much more).

The bitter pill is in some of the charges.

Water service charge has been cut from $129 to $124.

Water usage goes up from 95 cents to $1.05 per thousand litres.

Wastewater increased from $413 to $433 and the waste service charge goes up from $144 to $152.

Open space levy from $32 to $39.

Transport improvement levy from $15 to $25.

The average rates bill excluding water will be $1197.10.

This year 11 per cent of council's income will come from developer contributions as infrastructure charges rise.

Cr Molhoek said council was ensuring the development industry paid its fair share in essential service contributions.

The discount of 10 per cent for paying the bill on time stays, and pensioners will reveive both council and State Government remission and subsidies as usual.

Water supply receives the top priority in the budget allocations with $162 million this financial year earmarked for major projects including the southern regional pipeline from the Wivenhoe Dam and real planning for the raising of the Hinze Dam to its stage three.

An amount of $54 million is set aside for maintenance and other costs.

Transport: In 2005-2006 $37 million on city transport improvements and $32.9 million on maintenance and mobility.

Better main roads: Council will spend more than $83 million in the next four years to improve strategic road links.

Local roads: Council allocates more than $44 million to improve these roads and aims for all unsealed roads in the city to be sealed by 2008-2009.

Flood mitigation and drainage: Spending goes up by 50 per cent, with $9.5 million on flood mitigation and $5.2 million on maintaining existing drainage infrastructure.

Open space and sport acquisitions: $32.3 million earmarked. It is understood $20 million of this has been set aside towards the cost of land for an NRL stadium.

Part of the open space levy ($2 from each levy) is committed to the first stage of the long-awaited Regional Botanic Gardens at Ashmore, but there is no set amount allocated in the budget.

Libraries: In 2005-2006, council will spend $12.8 million on capital improvements for libraries and $10.9 million for operations and on-going costs.

Included are a new library at Elanora and extensions to Mermaid Waters and Robina libraries, Palm Beach library will be upgraded. In introducing his first budget, Cr Molhoek predicts regular and responsible rates rises in future.



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