The 2019-20 budget has committed $16 million to the resurfacing of the Emerald Airport runway
The 2019-20 budget has committed $16 million to the resurfacing of the Emerald Airport runway Alan Wild

Central Highlands rates increase in $218m Budget reveal

CENTRAL Highlands Regional Council released their latest 2019-20 Budget yesterday, including an $72.3m capital works program and an average general rate increase of 3 per cent.

The rate increase will be capped at 10 per cent due to some properties' higher rating process.

Mayor Kerry Hayes said the increase comes after three years of the council holding rates and charges "to a minimum” while seeking operational efficiencies.

He said it was "time to rebalance the revenue yields from general rates and ensure water revenue for a sustainable future”.

"The budget process identifies the total revenue that is required from general rates for the coming years and divides it across all properties in accordance with their individual valuation,” he said.

"The budget's overwhelming focus is on building and maintaining quality infrastructure, with more than half the operating and capital expenditure dedicated to this key priority.”

Ms Hayes said a conscious and critical decision to implement an operating deficit was made to ensure the budget returned to an operating surplus and balanced position in the longer term.

The $218 million budget includes a $72.3 million capital works program, with a $16 million committed to the resurfacing of the Emerald Airport runway and $9.51 million for rehabilitation and re-sheeting works on the councils' sealed and unsealed road network.

The Central Highlands' community infrastructure and facilities will also be improved, with 280 capital projects planned for completion.

Big-ticket operational projects include $1.5 million for the preparation of a business case investigation upgrades to the Capricorn Highway to Condenwarra Rd (Vince Lester bridge) and $22.6 million in rural roads maintenance.

Mr Hayes said the budget was a continuation of the council's responsive strategy to prevailing economic conditions.

Central Highlands Regional Council Mayor Kerry Hayes.
Central Highlands Regional Council Mayor Kerry Hayes. Contributed

"Council has adopted an operating deficit this year as we have made a conscious and critical decision to invest in the region's future now,” Mayor Hayes said.

"This will ensure the budget returns to an operating surplus and balanced position in the long-term.

"Setting the budget is always a difficult balancing act of managing expectations for council, running this business like a business, and positioning community services and operations to match the changing

economic environment and aspirations for the region.

"This budget sticks to those principles and shows we remain committed to providing value and creating liveable regional communities.”

Due to climatic impacts and recent water infrastructure upgrades, which have resulted in fluctuations in consumption, water consumption and access charges will increase by a 4.8 per cent average.

Sewerage charges will also increase by $25 a year to return costs associated with the new Black Gully Sewerage Treatment Plant, which include operational costs and the repayment of borrowings for the plant's completion.

The plant represents a long-term investment to serve the Emerald community for at least the next 30 years.

Waste management charges will also see an increase of 3 per cent, while the full implication of the Queensland Government's drive to reduce waste to landfill is considered and the Department of Environment and Science's compliance requirements are met.

This year, a waste levy will be collected on behalf of the state government for landfill waste and an advance payments from the state government will ensure the levy has no direct impact on households.

More information about the Central Highlands Regional Council Budget 2019-2020 can be found at

Budget's Key Priorities

  • Strong, vibrant communities: $9 million for parks and recreation areas, $14.3 million for sporting grounds, swimming pools and facilities, $1.9 million for community development and $1.5 million for libraries
  • Building and infrastructure: $72 million for transports network services, $7.1 million for water and waste services and $2.1 million for physical asset condition program.
  • Supporting the local economy: $727,000 for regional tourism and economic development, $20.4 fro airport services and $3.1 million for saleyards.
  • People and the environment: $2.9 million for flood mitigation and emergency services, $1.2 million for ranger services and $9.2 million for waste services.
  • Leadership and governance: $665,000 for community engagement adn communication and $7.7 million for information technology.
  • Organisation: $3.4 million for employee learning and development and $2 million for workplace health and safety.