Bundaberg Regional Council

Bundaberg Regional Council 2023-24 Budget

Cost of living budget to build better future

In response to cost of living pressures Bundaberg Regional Council has delivered a budget with a 0% increase in general rates while doubling the pensioner rates rebate.

Mayor Jack Dempsey said sustained sound financial management had put Council in a position to provide an immediate response to the current economic climate, which is not unique to the Bundaberg Region.

“We know that our community is dealing with cost of living pressures and have worked hard to once again deliver a budget that will offer relief during difficult times,” Mayor Dempsey said.

“This is the second budget in four years that has delivered a 0% rate increase.

“These decisions don’t happen overnight. Many months of planning have gone into achieving this result for our community and strategic decision making over a number of years has placed us in a strong financial position to allow us to do so.

“Just as we were able to immediately respond during the Covid crisis in our 2020-21 budget, we have again delivered a 0% increase in general rates.

“Doubling the pensioner rates rebate to $330, coupled with the high number of eligible ratepayers in our community, will see us deliver one of the highest rebates in the state, in terms of the percentage of general rates which we are now giving back to our community.

“Through this, we’re ensuring that additional assistance reaches some of those in our region who are most vulnerable.”

Mayor Dempsey said this cost of living relief was being delivered while Council continued to deliver essential services and build community infrastructure that would leave a legacy for generations to come.

“Achieving these outcomes for our community while delivering generational projects including the new Bundaberg Aquatic Centre, Anzac Park redevelopment and Moore Park Beach Masterplan is an indication of our strong financial position and something which should offer our community confidence.

“These are legacy projects which will ensure we are keeping our community moving forward and infrastructure will continue to meet the needs of our growing region.

“The liveability and lifestyle we enjoy in the Bundaberg Region is the envy of many and we have seen evidence of that in recent times as our population booms, now exceeding 102,000.”

He said other budget highlights within the $167 million capital program included road and pathway upgrades, equipment which will increase recycling, finalisation of the new Wintergarden Community Hub and a new Disaster Management Coordination Centre.

“We’re experiencing our highest economic growth in 16 years, boasting record breaking job numbers in our region and building generational infrastructure that will leave a lasting legacy well into the future.

“Together we are Building Australia’s Best Regional Community and proving that we are the ultimate destination to live, work and play.”

Find out more here.

Strong finances deliver budget relief measures

Bundaberg Regional Council’s 2023-24 budget has delivered no rise in general rates, for the second time in four years, to provide cost of living relief to the community.

Finance portfolio spokesperson Cr Steve Cooper said it’s one of several measures Council has introduced to address the challenging times being faced nationally due to the current economic climate.

“We are delivering a budget that continues to support our growing community while offering cost of living relief to those that need it most,” Cr Cooper said.

“There will be no increase to general rates for any ratepayer for the second time in four years. In this case, it is across all of the rating categories.

“Pensioners will receive a further boost with the doubling of the rebate which this year will increase from $165 to $330.

“The fact that we’ve achieved these cost relief measures while continuing to deliver major, generational projects in a $167 million capital budget is the result of good planning and good financial management.

“Council has consciously decided to absorb the inflation increases which has allowed us to immediately respond to the impacts of the cost of living crisis being felt by our community.

“We did it in Covid and in fact we came through that better than anticipated which puts us in a great position to be able to offer this level of support again.”

He said in recent years Bundaberg Regional Council rate increases had been at their lowest.

“On average the rate increases over the last five years come in at 1.59%.

“That’s compared to an average of 4.4% over the preceding five years. There has certainly been a significant decline in the scale at which rates have increased.”

In March 2023 Brisbane had the highest CPI nationally at 7.4% but Cr Cooper said Council had ensured that price increases associated with essential services like water, sewerage and waste remained well below CPI.

“None of these residential services have risen by more than 3.35%, and the average is 2.2%, when this year CPI peaked at over 7%,” he said.

He added that there had been no increase to the annual Community Wellbeing and Environment Charge, which remained at $100 for the year, or $50 on each half-yearly rate notice.

“This will help us to continue to provide essential support to our community from funding of emergency services and volunteer-based organisations to rubbish removal from waterways and (dunal) coastal management.

“The full list of supported projects has been made available as part of our ongoing commitment to making these costs transparent to our community.”

He added that Council had approval this year to borrow $30 million for the aquatic centre project but had no need to draw down the loan as it had sufficient cash reserves to progress the project.

“We’re working to improve our debt position while maintaining our commitment to major projects and delivering infrastructure for our growing community.”

Pathway and road work on track in 2023 24 budget

Pedestrian safety and active transport options will be enhanced with a more than $3 million pathways investment in Bundaberg Regional Council’s 2023-24 budget.

Roads and Drainage portfolio spokesperson Cr Bill Trevor said the investment aimed to improve connectivity and provide safer routes for residents and visitors.

He said one of the major projects would be the construction of a pathway along Kendalls Rd.

"The pathway, spanning one kilometre on the southern side of the road, will extend from Takalvan Street to Mott Street," Cr Trevor said.

"The primary objective behind this project is to enhance safety and create an active transport linkage to the Bundaberg Recreational Precinct.

"Residents and visitors will have a dedicated pathway to enjoy outdoor activities while minimising their interaction with traffic."

Cr Trevor said another significant initiative would be the development of a pathway along Sims Rd.

"This pathway will stretch 700 m, connecting Targo Street to Boundary Street," he said.

"Moreover, the project will include links to bus stops, allowing for seamless transitions between walking and public transportation.

"It will also contribute to the ongoing expansion of the active transport network, facilitating connections to community services, Walkervale State School and, eventually, Boreham Park.

"Additionally, improved access to bus stops in the area will be a notable benefit of this project."

As part of the 2023-24 budget, Cr Trevor said there would also be a focus on improving road infrastructure.

"For road projects, the total budget for the upcoming year is $33,173,499," he said.
"Bundaberg Regional Council also plans to allocate close to $3.8 million to drainage projects in the same period."

Cr Trevor said the new financial year would be focused on planning for the future.
"We’re doing a lot of strategic work behind the scenes to ensure Council is positioned favourably for future capital projects," he said.

“With significant investments ongoing for pathways, road development and drainage improvements, we are actively working to enhance the community's infrastructure and promote a safer and more sustainable living environment.

“Residents can look forward to improved connectivity, better access to key destinations and enhanced recreational opportunities as these projects come to fruition.”

Delivering services today, plans for tomorrow

Water and wastewater master planning will be a key focus for Bundaberg Regional Council over the next 12 months with the benefits set to flow for many years to come.

Water and Wastewater portfolio spokesperson Cr Jason Bartels said it was an important process and would ensure the continuity of reliable and high-quality services.

“The master planning for our water and wastewater services is not just about today,” Cr Bartels said.

“It’s about tomorrow and ensuring that we protect and appropriately manage infrastructure and resources for many, many years to come.”

He said Council’s aim was to provide a long-term plan to sustainably manage water and wastewater treatment over the next 20 years.

“This involves drilling down to individual schemes before taking a more holistic view of the entire regional network.

“A significant investment is being made in the planning works with a range of activities to take part within the process including site criticality assessments and quality improvement studies on existing plants.

“We want to better understand how our services are being used throughout our region and create master plans to ensure we deliver the required resources and infrastructure to cater to the region’s continued growth.

“The master planning will look at how we can continue to maintain high levels of service for our community and enable growth as our population increases.”

Cr Bartels said in the 2023-24 budget Council had also made a commitment to plan and design an upgrade of the Millbank Wastewater Treatment Plant inlet works.

“The Millbank Wastewater Treatment Plant was first constructed in the mid-1960s and the inlet works were part of the original construction.

“They have now reached the end of their useful life so Council’s water and wastewater team will work on planning and designing its upgrade.

“Upgrading the Millbank facility will ensure we continue to meet the current and future needs of this area while providing sustainable and cost-effective services.”

Work will also continue on the coastal sewerage diversion project which will support growth in the region’s coastal areas.

“We’re continuing to progress this important project which will help Rubyanna Wastewater Treatment Plant to realise its potential.”

He said strategic investments in infrastructure in recent times had placed Council in a positive position as master planning progressed.

Budget boost for parks and

The 2023-24 budget has set the stage for a transformative year for parks and playgrounds in the Bundaberg Region.

With a strong focus on community wellbeing and recreation, the budget allocates significant resources to upgrade parks and recreational spaces, providing residents with enhanced facilities and opportunities for active lifestyles.

Bundaberg Regional Council Parks and Gardens portfolio spokesperson Cr Wayne Honor said more than 20 recreational spaces would be upgraded in the new financial year, including the revitalisation of Banksia Park in Woodgate.

"The eagerly anticipated Banksia Park project will see the creation of a brand-new car park, improved pathways, inviting barbecues, conveniently located shelters, well-equipped picnic facilities and an engaging playground," he said.

"The project aligns with a masterplan developed last year and will bring a range of exciting additions while meeting the evolving needs and desires of residents, ensuring a dynamic outdoor experience for individuals and families alike.

"This project in particular is a testament to our commitment to providing top-notch recreational areas for our community."

New playgrounds will also be added to:

• Domain Park
• Laurisen Park
• Charlotte Moorehead Park
• Lathurous Court Park
• Apple Tree Creek
• Aquarius Drive Park
• Bargara Views
• Wallaville Park
• Tantitha Park

Cr Honor said as part of this year’s budget Council would focus on creating comfortable and sun-safe playgrounds, with shade sail installation to continue throughout the new financial year.

"We understand the importance of shade in our tropical climate, especially for our young ones," Cr Honor said.

"As part of an ongoing initiative, we will be installing shade sails at seven additional locations across the region, providing children with a cool and protected environment to play.”

The budget also includes plans to upgrade or replace six public toilet facilities, ensuring clean and modern amenities for park-goers.

"We are excited to witness the positive impact these investments will have on our community,” Cr Honor said.

“The budget reflects our vision for an active, vibrant and united Bundaberg, where residents can truly enjoy the great outdoors and an active lifestyle

Budget offers much-needed assistance to local groups

Local organisations and sporting groups will receive a helping hand as Bundaberg Regional Council continues to enhance its commitment to community services as part of the 2023-24 budget.

In the new financial year Council will provide $425,000 for groups eligible for local funding programs.

Community Services portfolio spokesperson Cr Tracey McPhee said the dollar figure would extend across grants including Community Grants, Micro Grants, Partnerships and Sponsorships Grants and Major Event Grants, along with other support.

“This year, Council will be taking an entrepreneurial approach to the Partnerships and Sponsorships program by supporting organisations through the delivery of significant projects or events which will benefit the region,” Cr McPhee said.

“Major Event funding will bring significant large-scale events to the region, usually on a contractual basis for multiple years.”

Community Services program continues support

Cr McPhee said local organisations which made positive contributions to the quality of life in the Bundaberg Region would also be provided with much-needed assistance.

The 2023-24 budget includes a grants program which allows local, eligible organisations to share in $110,000 of funding.

“Community and micro grants will continue to be available to assist eligible clubs and not-for-profit organisations with the costs for delivering projects and events for the local community,” she said.

“There are countless examples of fantastic ways this funding has been utilised over the years and I would strongly encourage local organisations and groups to learn more about the program and how it might be able to support their initiatives.

“Providing this support is important to Council as it not only fosters great relationships with our local groups, but it also assists them in delivering valuable services to our residents which, in turn, makes for a much healthier, happier and connected community.”

Flights soar as airport investment continues

It’s been a big year for Bundaberg Regional Airport with direct Melbourne flights launched as Council continues to invest in the infrastructure which makes it possible.

Portfolio spokesperson Cr Greg Barnes said the airport was a critical asset for the region.

“Bundaberg Regional Airport, which is owned and maintained by Council, provides a critical link from our region to two capital cities both for business and recreation,” Cr Barnes said.

“Council maintains this facility in the knowledge that airport infrastructure is so critical to the economy of a regional community.

“By investing in our airport we’re investing in the local tourism industry and ensuring our residents maintain access to travel options which now include direct flights to Melbourne in addition to direct flights to Brisbane.”

He said Council’s 2023-24 budget continued to invest in the facility off the back of significant investment in recent years.

“We’ve seen many improvements undertaken at the airport in recent years.

“Funds have been allocated this year to correct the aviation taxiway to improve some of the older areas of pavement and make them more durable.

“This work is part of an ongoing commitment to maintaining and securing the airport into the future.

“We’re also investing in a number of renewal projects in relation to parking, facility air conditioning and hangar upgrades.”

Cr Barnes said the airport and passenger numbers were in “continued recovery” post-Covid.

“People are once again getting used to the idea of air travel post-pandemic and these numbers and this travel confidence has certainly been boosted by the arrival of new airlines travelling to and from the region.

“Additional competition on the Brisbane to Bundaberg route and the new interstate route has certainly renewed interest in air travel locally.

“While we don’t have specific passenger number details, crowds in the airport terminal indicate that the Melbourne to Bundaberg flights are certainly proving popular.”

Council is continuing to encourage airline companies to look at both increasing schedules and further expanding routes north and south of the region, in line with community requests.

Budget plans cut waste, increase recovery

There’s a big sustainability focus in this year’s waste and recycling budget with projects on the agenda to cut waste to landfill and increase resource recovery.

A significant focus for Bundaberg Regional Council’s Waste and Recycling services will be the rollout of the Food Organics and Garden Organics (FOGO) trial from October 2023.

Portfolio spokesperson Cr Tanya McLoughlin said it was one of a number of initiatives which would aim to cut waste to landfill over coming years.

“Our FOGO trial is an important step to take towards helping to meet the state’s zero waste to landfill targets,” Cr McLoughlin said.

“Organic materials which could be turned into compost for beneficial use currently make up more than 50% of the region’s waste to landfill.”

Another initiative to reduce waste to landfill is new equipment for the Material Recovery Facility which sorts the materials disposed of in the region’s yellow-lidded wheelie bins.

Cr McLoughlin said the investment had the potential to boost the amount of materials being recovered.

“We will purchase a new machine that uses magnetic currents to sort aluminium and a new trommel for the initial mechanical sorting of bottles, jars, cardboard and paper to replace the existing 20-year-old machine.

“This equipment will support the great work of the Impact Community Services team that hand-sorts recyclable materials at this facility and it will help to create efficiencies and improve the quality of the recycled end product.”

Cr McLoughlin said the costs of providing waste services were increasing but Council had worked to minimise the impact on residents.

“Council will once again provide ratepayers with two free waste disposal vouchers to use throughout the year.

“All price increases associated with residential waste collection services are well below CPI.”

The Queensland Waste Levy that is paid on household waste landfilled to the State Government, is forecast to cost the region’s ratepayers an additional $27,000,000 over the next nine years if we can’t find viable, cost-effective alternatives to landfill.

Cr McLoughlin said it was a major driver for Council with the aim of minimising the financial burden for residents and ratepayers.

“In line with its reducing waste to landfill targets the Queensland Government is reducing the waste levy subsidies on household waste.

“This means the amount of waste levy that Council has to pay to the State Government to dispose of domestic waste has increased and will continue to progressively increase over the next 10 years.”

In its 2023-24 budget Council has also invested in the construction of Cell 4 of the Cedars Landfill which receives the region’s kerbside wheelie bin and commercial waste.

The project is forecast to cost $4.5 million and will extend the capacity of the landfill for about another nine years.

“Of course if we, as a community, do all we can to take up opportunities to reduce waste to landfill we could potentially get another four to five years out of this investment,” Cr McLoughlin said.

“Disposing of waste to landfill is a costly and unsustainable practice and Council will work closely with the community to divert as much waste away from landfill as possible.”

Budget focuses on strengthening
sports community

Bundaberg Regional Council is gearing up to unleash a wave of sporting opportunities in the Bundaberg Region through its 2023-24 budget.

With a commitment to fostering a strong and vibrant sporting community, residents will continue to be provided with top-tier events, the construction of new facilities and comprehensive support programs in the new financial year.

Sports and Recreation portfolio spokesperson Cr Vince Habermann said investing in sports and promoting an active lifestyle had always been a priority for Council.

"We are thrilled to announce that the upcoming budget will reinforce our dedication to sports through the continuation of our current sponsored events that will benefit the entire community," he said.

Among these sponsored events is the highly popular Bulls Master's Cricket and Queensland Touch Football Bundy Cup and the 2023 Queensland Schools Championships Regatta, which draw in enthusiastic participants and spectators from near and far.

"These events not only showcase the region's sporting talent but also contribute to the local economy through increased tourism and visitor spending," Cr Habermann said.

Bundaberg Regional Council has also secured the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs for another year, bringing the exciting NRL game to Bundaberg in 2024.

"We are delighted to partner with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, which demonstrates our ability to attract high-profile sporting events to our region," Cr Habermann said.

"Just like in previous years this NRL game will provide an incredible experience for sports enthusiasts and create significant economic benefits for local businesses."

Recognising the importance of financial assistance, Council has established several programs to support local sporting organisations that will continue to be rolled out in the new financial year.

These include the Young People in Sport Program, the Sport Championship Funding Program, the Partnerships and Sponsorship Program and Be Active Be Alive.

"Through these initiatives, Council aims to empower grassroots sports clubs and enable them to thrive, fostering talent and nurturing a sense of community pride," Cr Habermann said.

"Be Active Be Alive focuses on providing fitness opportunities for everyone in the community, with more than 300 free classes delivered every year."

Cr Habermann said sport, health and fitness will be a focus into the future for Council, with the construction of the state-of-the-art Bundaberg Aquatic Centre progressing to schedule.

The facility will feature a FINA standard, covered, 50-metre, heated competition pool, providing a top-notch venue for regional and state-level events.

"The Bundaberg Aquatic Centre will be a game-changer for our region," he said.

"It will not only attract elite swimmers to the region but also cater to the broader community by offering a range of fitness, teaching and therapy programs in additional indoor heated pools and multi-purpose rooms.

"This comprehensive facility will become a hub for health, wellbeing and sporting excellence."

Cr Habermann said the 2023-24 budget highlighted how the Council continued to support local sporting activities while fostering a sense of community.

"We are confident that these initiatives will create a lasting impact on our community, enabling residents of all ages to participate in sports, celebrate local talent, and enjoy a range of health and fitness services," he said.

ParkSmart, illegal dumping a
focus in budget

A focus on parking in the CBD and illegal dumping has been highlighted in Bundaberg Regional Council's 2023-24 budget, with new innovations and continuing programs.

Council parking officers will be able to get on with their job in a much more safe and efficient manner through a six-month trial of a ParkSmart vehicle starting in July.

The advanced parking monitoring vehicle uses number plate recognition technology to improve the efficiency in monitoring parking behaviour.

The well signed ParkSmart car will be on the roads from July and will see parking officers behind the wheel instead of pounding the pavement.

Health, Compliance and Enforcement portfolio spokesperson Cr May Mitchell said two officers would utilise the vehicle at any one time.

“The vehicle is fitted with two high-speed cameras and a GPS tracking system and captures images of parked vehicles," she said.

"ParkSmart aims to encourage people to stick to the designated parking times and move on time, this will create more parking spaces for others.

"Whether it's sunshine or rain, ParkSmart operates in all conditions.”

Cr Mitchell said 10 areas across the Bundaberg CBD and local school zones would be monitored with the ParkSmart vehicle as part of the trial.

She said the vehicle would be clearly marked and any photos that captured people would be automatically blurred.

"Many Councils have already implemented similar technology and Bundaberg Regional Council is keen to see how it can assist with our region," she said.

Illegal dumping program to continue

The 2023-24 budget will also have a focus on illegal dumping, with Bundaberg Regional Council's illegal dumping program extended for another financial year.

The Department of Environment and Science (DES) funds two full-time officers to manage the hundreds of illegal dumping reports that come through to Council per annum.

Council funds the collection and disposal of dumped materials and has recently set up an illegal dumping trailer for quick response and removal of dumped materials.

Cr Mitchell said, on average, Council received 10 illegal dumping reports per week.

"That's roughly 520 reports a year, resulting in 198,000 litres of waste removed from our roads, parklands and more,” she said.

“Illegal dumping officers are dedicated to combatting a massive problem that is severely impacting our environment.”
An illegal dumping fine costs more than $2000.

Council issues a number of these fines each year.

“It is so much cheaper, and better for the environment to just take rubbish to the tip,” Cr Mitchell said.

Anyone wishing to report an illegal dumping incident can do so via Council’s Snap Send Solve app, by completing an online form or phoning Council on 1300 883 699.

Budget spotlight on arts, culture and events

The spotlight will be on arts, culture and events over the next 12 months with Bundaberg Regional Council’s 2023-24 budget supporting and celebrating a continuing calendar of local and touring performances, festivals and exhibitions.

It comes as Council reinforces its commitment to fostering community spirit by showcasing local talent and bringing high-quality entertainment to the region.

Arts, Culture and Events portfolio spokesperson Cr John Learmonth said last financial year the region was treated to a stellar line-up of performances and exhibitions as well as plenty of opportunity for locals to harness their creativity.

He said this year would be no different.

“Bundaberg Regional Council is lucky to have two fantastic galleries, in Bundaberg Art Gallery and Childers Art Space, as well as an amazing theatre committed to showcasing artists, exhibitions and performances that resonate with our regional community,” he said.

“Our galleries and Moncrieff Entertainment Centre are wonderful venues which not only provide high-quality entertainment and events through national and international talents, but they also provide a space for locals to showcase their skills, schools and groups to perform and spaces for the community to come together to appreciate theatre and the arts.

“It is also worth noting attendances at the Moncrieff Entertainment Centre has increased significantly since even before COVID began.”

Along with a jam-packed program of performances and exhibitions, Council’s 2023-24 budget will also continue its commitment in engaging residents in a range of art workshops and educational experiences.

“From environmental workshops to community choirs and school holiday and art programs there will be something for any age and skillset,” Cr Learmonth said.

“Engagement is Council’s priority and the experiences through these workshops and educational programs will leave residents enriched and eager for more.”

A celebration of culture will also continue into the new financial year with First Nations artists to be celebrated throughout upcoming exhibitions and performances as well as within the return of the annual Milbi Festival.

“Our Milbi Festival is one of the highly anticipated events on our calendar and is a wonderful collaboration of local First Nations groups and the community,” Cr Learmonth said.

“The festival is part of a range of major events that bring locals and visitors together throughout the year, including Childers and Taste Festivals and the annual Christmas Program.

“These events, plus our theatre and art galleries, are integral in not only bringing new experiences to the region, but also in showing off our own local talent and having spaces to foster and grow a creative community.”