GOLD Coast Mayor Tom Tate (pictured) has taken a sword to the city Budget, slashing $168 million from expenditure in an effort to reduce almost $900 million debt by 30 per cent over the next eight years.
In a blow for local businesses, Tate says the savings will come through a $134 million slashing of management and consultancy costs and a further $34 million by deferring or cancelling one-off spends, including infrastructure projects.
Tate refuses to speculate on possible job losses as a result of the Budget cuts. But the mayor says the council has become too large.
“Business is hurting out there, however it appears over the previous few years, the business that has grown the most is the Gold Coast City Council,” says Tate.
“There is something wrong there. I find it embarrassing.”
Governance, administration and finance committee chair William Owen-Jones says the council will stimulate business by freezing infrastructure charges. It will look to reduce some of those charges in coming months when they are further reviewed, he says.
Scrapping the new council headquarters at Robina will save $89 million this year, while construction of the Palm Beach Shoreline Project ($1.6 million), bikeways at Yatala and Surfers Paradise ($1.3 million) and the Surfers South Oceanway ($750,000), have been deferred.
The council has also delayed spending $5 million to connect to an offshore international fibre optic telecommunications cable.
Meanwhile, divisional funds have reduced to $700,000 from $860,000 for an overall saving of $2.8 million.
The council will spend $14 million on drainage work at four locations and there is $3.7 million allocated for foreshore works.
Tate championed an overall 2.5 per cent increase in council charges as the lowest in 12 years, but the minimum general rate itself rose 4.2 per cent to $736. The average general rate increased 3.9 per cent from $1180.21 to $1226.09.
The waste management utility charge is up 3.6 per cent to $229 from $221.
There is a 1.3 per cent increase in three water charges, wastewater ($688.87), water service ($201.49) and water consumption ($185.87).
Overall, the average net council rates and charges fee for 2012-13 will be $2581.70.
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