GOLD Coast Mayor Ron Clarke (pictured) has described this year's $920 million budget as a 'responsible budget that is a reflection of the times'.
There will be a 3.5 per cent increase on the minimum general rate, while the average rate will go up by 4.3 per cent.
“This budget has managed to keep the Minimum General Rate rise in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) at 3.5 per cent, but with the $50 hardship rebate offered to all ratepayers, the rate rise on the Minimum General Rate is effectively $2.18, or just four cents per week,” says Clarke.
“This budget acknowledges our ratepayers are still doing it tough with constant increases in the basic costs of living and that local business is still being economically challenged, particularly the construction industry.
“At the same time, it delivers a broad program of capital works including road upgrades, public transport, new community infrastructure, flood protection and waste facilities, as well as funding to help stimulate some of our key industries like construction, tourism and small business.”
Clarke says strengthening the Gold Coast's economy, environment and sense of community is a key aim for Council's land use planning and management efforts.
A new Planning Scheme will be produced in 2012, following the end of a $5 million, four-year comprehensive review of the 2003 scheme.
The scheme sets out development patterns including the preferred land use of every Gold Coast property and identifies what natural areas should be protected and where shops, industry and public spaces should be located.
Council will also continue to fund programs which assist the development and construction sector to deliver quality residential, commercial and industrial projects as well as jobs across the city.
Clarke says GCCC’s Economic Development program strives to ensure we are 'a city with a thriving economy'.
So what’s in it for the economy and small business?
Council has pledged $780,000 towards the 2018 Commonwealth Games bid preparation, in consultation with the State Government.
Council's Economic Development and Major Projects directorate has helped to secure a number of other major sporting events for the Gold Coast including the Gold Coast Kitesurfing Pro World Tour (December), the IRB Rugby Sevens (November) and the Inaugural Indigenous Rugby League carnival (September).
It has also secured sponsorship for the Gold Coast Blaze basketball team ($155,000) and the Gold Coast Academy of Sport ($450,000 over three years).
Funds allocated this year include: Gold Coast Tourism $13.9 million; Surfers Paradise Alliance $3 million; Broadbeach Alliance $1.7 million; Connecting Southern Gold Coast $639,600.
Council's Investment Attraction Program, which began in 2009 as a two-year trial, has resulted in more than 150 enquiries from a range of firms representing education, film, manufacturing, IT, aviation, tourism, sport and environment.
The program has secured $77 million in direct capital investment and 1300 employment positions through the attraction of a range of companies and film projects and will continue.
Council will also invest $825,000 in its export program, which delivers a package of export coaching, support and mentoring services to businesses seeking export opportunities.
The Council and State Government is continuing its Marine Projects Partnership in an effort to develop shared marine-related projects. Funding of more than $1 million will be used for dredging of navigation channels, a waterfront destinations strategy and improved planning for the Broadwater precinct.
Funding of $6 million has been allocated to the redevelopment of Cavill Mall. This project will include outdoor dining areas, improved lighting, arbours, new furniture.
Cr Clarke thanked the administration for its cooperative efforts in finding $22 million of savings - made up of $16 million in general budget savings, $5 million in procurement savings and $1 million in IT savings.
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