Mareeba Shire Council adopted its budget for the upcoming fiscal year at a special meeting today.

Mareeba Shire Mayor Angela Toppin said the balanced budget was financially responsible amid COVID-19.

“We have had to make some difficult decisions, recognising the impact coronavirus has had on our community, while at the same time ensuring long-term financial sustainability,” Cr Toppin said.

The capital budget of $15.7 million includes an allocation of $1.5 million for solar energy initiatives at Council facilities. “This is a significant investment and highlights the Council’s commitment to being environmentally responsible and continuing to look at cost-saving efficiencies across the organisation,” Cr Toppin said.

Included in the budget is $9.1 million allocated to maintain and upgrade transport infrastructure and $11.7 million for water, wastewater services, renewals and upgrades.

Mayor Angela Toppin said the annual operational budget of $46.9 million would allow Council to continue to deliver essential services while maintaining community facilities and renewing ageing infrastructure for the growing community.

A 2.5% increase on general rates and utilities will be offset by a COVID-19 rebate for residential properties.

As Council faces the increasing demand to upgrade ageing water infrastructure, water access charges will be slightly increased. “This will ensure the continuity of a reliable water supply for residents and businesses across the Shire,” Cr Toppin said.

Mayor Angela Toppin also highlighted the Council’s favourable credit rating in her first budget speech as Mayor.

“Council’s recent credit rating has been upgraded to sound, with a neutral outlook. This improved rating by the Queensland Treasury Corporation is reflective of the Council’s financial performance, adequate debt serving capacity and sound liquidity levels and instills confidence in the organisation,” Cr Toppin said.

“As we follow Council’s long-term financial plan, I am optimistic about the future sustainability of the Shire,” Cr Toppin concluded.