Council signs off on $83m budget

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times
Bunbury Mayor Gary Brennan and chief executive Mal Osborne at a 2019-20 budget overview information session yesterday morning.
Camera IconBunbury Mayor Gary Brennan and chief executive Mal Osborne at a 2019-20 budget overview information session yesterday morning. Credit: Kate Fielding / South Western Times

There was little fanfare as Bunbury City Council adopted its 2019-20 budget this week.

After several workshops throughout the year, it took the council just 11 minutes on Tuesday night to vote in the $83.6 million budget.

The 12-month financial outlook is based on a 3 per cent rate hike for residents — an increase that prompted comment from two residents before the council’s vote.

Chris Ingrey told the council household budgets were already under pressure and he opposed any rate increase.

“Things are tough out there, maybe you haven’t heard but I’m sure you have heard, things are tough,” Mr Ingrey said.

“I don’t think now is the time to increase rates on household as well as businesses.”

But the council voted 8-1 in favour of the rate increase with Cr Karen Steele voting against it, councillors Jaysen Miguel and Todd Brown on approved leave and Cr Michelle Steck a no-show at the special budget meeting.

At a budget overview breakfast yesterday, Mayor Gary Brennan said it was unrealistic for local governments not to increase rates.

Budget highlights include the designs for the long-awaited youth precinct, construction of hotly-anticipated water splash park and improvements to Halifax Business Park.

Mr Brennan said a strong focus on business was a feature of the budget, which would lead to a “stronger community”.

“We will be investing heavily in the CBD over the next year with the implementation of our CBD Action Plan, as well as the promotion and marketing of Bunbury to visitors,” Mr Brennan said.

“Council has maintained a disciplined approach to developing this year’s budget based on key considerations and many competing demands, such as what the community can afford as a reasonable rate increase.”

The budget also includes $2.3 million for construction of a Hay Park Central pavilion, $1.3 million for upgrades to Sykes Foreshore, the planned location of the splash park, and $1.1 million for further Koombana Drive widening.

Improving the city’s landscaping, parks, gardens and entry statements will see a $874,000 investment, Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre will again be supported with $426,000, and $350,000 will be spent on the South West Sports Centre aquatic changing rooms.

The expected increase to residents’ recycling charges also featured, with an average increase of $14 per year for homeowners.

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