REVEALED: Council's record $119M capital works budget spend
A RECORD $119 million will be spent on capital works and average rates will be decreased in the next Fraser Coast Regional Council budget.
Details of the council spend were revealed to the Chronicle yesterday, less than three weeks away from the budget being handed down.
Of the capital works spend, $23 million has been set aside for major projects that include the renewing of the Hervey Bay Airport runway, the Maryborough administration building, Hervey Bay's new CBD and the Avion Aviation Precinct at the airport.
Fraser Coast mayor George Seymour said the council would effectively "freeze the average rate" for ratepayers and some would even see a decrease on their rates bill.
However, he said such decreases and any rates increases would be dependent on State Government land valuations.
"The average rate will be slightly less... under our legislation, the unimproved capital value of land is tied directly to your rates," Cr Seymour said.
"That's outside of the council's control, we don't value property.
"But the average general rate is going down slightly on the proposed budget I'm presenting to councillors."
Cr Seymour said he wanted to increase services where "they needed to be", including animal management and library services.
Of the capital works budget, another $1.6 million will be spent on developing the first stage of a master-plan for Maryborough's CBD and Portside Heritage Cultural Precinct.
Councillor Daniel Sanderson said the budget had a strong investment in the Heritage City that could prove an economic catalyst for the region.
"The development of these new administration centres will be a long process that will take several years to finalise with the money allocated in this year's budget going towards early stages, such as securing sites and doing preliminary design work," Cr Sanderson said.
"Both of these projects are extremely important to help revitalise the two city centres."
The budget is set to be handed down at a time when council debt is at a record low.
The debt, which peaked at $175 million five years ago, has been brought back to $98.7 million.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said the council's capital works budget was $199 million. The Chronicle understands this is not the case and apologises for the error.