Capital improvements, quality service underpins 2024/25 budget

Western Downs Regional Council

WDRC Mayor Andrew Smith Budget.jpg

Western Downs Regional Council’s 2024/25 Budget delivers legacy infrastructure and quality essential services to drive certainty and enhance the region’s liveability for generations to come.

Handing down Council’s $250.8 million budget today (Thursday 20 June), Mayor Andrew Smith said Council will improve service delivery while continuing to invest in vital infrastructure initiatives to make the Western Downs a better place to live, work, invest and prosper.

“During a time of national supply shortages and rising costs, it is crucial Council delivers a budget which is measured and responsible, and this year Council is focusing on core infrastructure and services as well as some great new capital projects,” Cr Smith said.

“Western Downs Regional Council will maintain its strong financial position with a budgeted total operating expenditure of more than $177.8 million and a total capital investment of $73 million.

“We also continue to maintain our position as one of the few debt-free Local Governments in Queensland due to Council’s ongoing commitment to responsible financial management.

“Council has worked hard to keep rates low and still deliver high-quality services for our growing region, which is why we are able to deliver a general rates increase of 3.9% and 3.5% for utility charges in this budget. Most residential households will only see a 3.5% increase.

“Our rates align responsible financial management with high quality service delivery while continuing to enhance the liveability of the Western Downs.”

Cr Smith said Council was also on target to complete its massive $164 million road flood recovery program in early 2025 to fix and improve the region’s road network.

“Council is on target to finalise our road flood recovery works program through the delivery of more than $70 million in works scheduled to be completed by early 2025 to help to keep our region connected. This in addition our 2024/25 Council funded capital program,” he said.

“Council has budgeted $50.6 million in capital and operational improvements for planned renewals, strategic upgrades and ongoing maintenance to ensure our roads are safe and well-maintained.

“This includes $23.1 million in road maintenance and repairs work and $27.5 million in capital upgrades with QRA Betterment Funding of $5.98 million to improve floodways and strengthen our roads against future weather impacts.

“Our road network was lashed by several consecutive flooding events in the past two years, which has created a massive repair effort for Council.

“This budget also includes a $16.8 million investment in modern water infrastructure to ensure quality essential services for our towns including a new bore, water treatment, and pipeline for Dalby, the commencement of a multi-year project in water security for Chinchilla and progresses raising the Condamine Weir.

“We are building for the future of our thriving region. It is vital the Western Downs continues to be supported by modern water infrastructure and a high standard of service to enable future economic and population growth.”

Cr Smith said through this budget, Council will enhance the region’s strong, diverse economy and empower local communities to deliver new and exciting social and recreational initiatives for the region.

“Council will be progressing new cultural facilities for Dalby as well as the Chinchilla Aquatic Precinct project,” he said.

“We know how much our communities love and value our parks, pools and green spaces, and Council is excited to be advancing projects that improve the social, cultural and wellbeing of the people in our region.

“Council is proud to be investing $1.38 million in capital upgrades to improve regional parklands and open spaces including a new playground for Thomas Jack Park at Dalby, master planning and consultation around upgrades to Lions Park in Tara and construction of 13 new barbecue shelters in open spaces across the region.

“Our strong, diverse economy is continuing to grow, and in this budget, we will deliver a range of future-focused initiatives to ensure our region remains at the forefront of the changing world.”

Cr Smith said Council would also invest in events that promote the Western Downs as a favourite destination for visitors, supporting a strong economy and showcasing our region to the world.

“In the year ahead, we can look forward to events like the Tara Festival of Culture and Camel Races, Big Skies 2024, Chinchilla Melon Fest 2025, and our annual Words Out West Readers and Writers Festival,” he said.

“Events like these showcase our culture and give our communities the opportunity to shine, bringing visitors and tourists to the region in droves and boosting our tourism revenue.

“We are investing in the empowerment of our community to deliver new and exciting opportunities for residents and visitors, and our investment in our renowned destination events will continue through a $408,000 investment in grants and community activation funding for committees hosting events this year.”

Cr Smith said Council had allocated $5.47 million in capital improvements to existing regional showgrounds, civic centres, community halls, and sport and recreation grounds to strengthen community ties.

“The Western Downs is home to so many great attractions and we want to encourage our residents and visitors to explore our backyard and enjoy our facilities,” Smith said.

“We’ll be developing masterplans for improvements at the Tara and Dalby Showgrounds and remodelling the Miles Leichhardt Centre foyer and hall walkway.

“This budget is about delivering high quality services and legacy infrastructure and investing in capital projects that drive economic growth and enhance the liveability of our active vibrant communities for generations to come.”

/Public Release. View in full here.