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Julian SIMMONDS


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Council Budget

LM delivers prudent Budget to tackle congestion

Monday, 4 August 2014

Lord Mayor Graham Quirk has unveiled a $2.9 billion Budget for 2014/15 that focuses on tackling the impacts of traffic congestion and managing the city’s finances in a prudent and responsible manner.

Brisbane residents can expect to see several large river barges taking up residence for a number of critical infrastructure projects to be delivered during the next 12 months, including new ferry terminals, Riverwalk and geotechnical investigations for the Kingsford Smith Drive expansion.

Cr Quirk said the average increase in rates for owner occupier residential properties and commercial properties would be 3.85%. For owner occupiers the average rate increase equates to $11.97 per quarterly rates notice or 92 cents per week.

He said the average increases to Council’s fees and charges would be in line with CPI at 3.1% however there will be a 12-month freeze for on-street parking costs with no change to the current meter costs.

“This is a Budget that is modest by design with no surprises or extravagant spending announcements,” he said.

“This Budget focuses on the priorities that ratepayers expect like modern and reliable public transport, congestion busting road infrastructure and the maintenance and enhancements of assets and services that the hallmarks of a new world city.”

He said his Budget would retain the Council-funded 40 per cent remission on the rates bill for full pensioners, which rises to a capped amount of $901 for 2014-15.

“I am conscious of the pressures for residents on a pension so the ceiling amounts for full and part pension rebates for rates will rise slightly in line with the level of rates increase.”

“Brisbane pensioners receive the most generous discounts of any South East Queensland local government area on their rates bills and we also offer a generous remission on water and sewerage accounts capped at $472,” he said.

“Brisbane is the only SEQ local authority to help pensioners meet their water and sewerage bills.”

Cr Quirk said $957,000 had been set aside for the restoration of suburban memorials ahead of the ANZAC Centenary next year on top of the $2.2 million contribution towards the renewal and refurbishment to ANZAC Square being undertaken jointly with the State Government.

“It is fitting that in the lead-up to the ANZAC Centenary that we focus on the restoration of our memorials so that we can honour and recognise the service and sacrifices made by so many,” he said.

The Budget includes $619,000 funding for the restoration of memorials across the suburbs as well as $338,000 to restore six individual memorials including the Centenary Suburbs War Memorial Gardens at Mt Ommaney, the Hemmant Recreation Reserve Memorial, Mowbray Park at East Brisbane, the Nundah Memorial Park, Pike Place Park at Kenmore and the Yeronga Memorial Park.

Cr Quirk said the Brisbane River was becoming the focus of the city’s infrastructure activity with several large barges currently in place, ranging in size between 35 and 60 metres, a clear sign of major works in progress along a 10 kilometre stretch of the river.

“Barges on the river, just like cranes in the city skyline, are a good indicator of development activity,” he said.

“We are experiencing a range of new developments across Brisbane which are aimed at dealing with our city’s growth and expansion.

“There are two barges for Riverwalk, and one each for the new Milton ferry terminal, Kingsford Smith Drive upgrade and one off the City Botanic Gardens for the State Government’s BaT project. This will increase to seven in August when work begins on the Bulimba ferry terminal.”

Cr Quirk said the coming financial year would see the completion of major infrastructure projects including Legacy Way and the replacement of open level crossings with overpasses at Telegraph Road, Bracken Ridge and Robinson Road, Geebung.

He said more than $200 million was committed in his 2014-15 Budget for the city’s future infrastructure program that would see the beginnings of critical projects such as Kingsford Smith Drive, Wynnum Road Corridor Stage One project and an upgrade to Paradise Road, Larapinta.

“We are making a significant investment in the future of Brisbane, to ensure we’re not just delivering what we need now but what is necessary for future generations,” he said.

“These projects have been identified for future funding and delivery due to their capacity to make both immediate and long term positive impacts in the lives of residents.”

Cr Quirk said the critical upgrade of Kingsford Smith Drive would increase traffic capacity through the expansion of the road corridor from four to six lanes.

“We are financing this project in a responsible way through the lease of the tolling rights of Legacy Way, ensuring we do not put excess pressure on ratepayers.”

The Budget also includes $15 million over the next two years for the Voluntary Home Purchase Scheme to purchase properties affected by creek or local flooding. The scheme was placed on hold last year to fast track the installation of priority backflow prevention devices to minimise flood risk at key locations around the city.

Cr Quirk said the Budget would prioritise projects geared for shining the global spotlight on the city as host of one of the most high-profile and important events in the international calendar, the G20 Leaders Summit in November.

“This year is Brisbane’s time to shine and it’s our once-in-a-generation chance to show to the world and the influx of visitors we’ll receive, what a vibrant and dynamic city we are,” he said.

“As part of our $750,000 commitment toward G20 leveraging, we will be undertaking initiatives such as the ‘Brisbane Welcomes the World’ training program to ensure the city’s service staff are skilled up to help visitors with their stay as well as a series of way-finding installations to make it easier to travel around the city.

“The ‘Brisbane Global Café’ will also take place, bringing thought leaders from around the world together, to discuss global issues through a series of events.

“This relatively small investment will reap big rewards in the future of our city, particularly the potential for drawing additional tourism, business investment, conventions and students.”

Cr Quirk said Council would also prioritise getting the city looking in its best shape ever.

Other key features in the Lord Mayor’s 2014-15 Budget include:
- $33.9 million for 60 new air-conditioned and wheelchair accessible buses
- $2.1 million towards the delivery of two new CityCats
- $4.7 million for new ferry terminal at Milton
- $4.6 million to improve the flow of buses at the Melbourne St busway portal
- $26 million towards construction of key bikeway links
- $1 million for new skate park facility at Bracken Ridge
- $6.4 million towards two new pools at Parkinson and Bracken Ridge
- $2 million towards the Forest Lake Community Hall
- $3.8 million for new Multicultural Performing Arts Centre at Sunnybank
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