After handing down his second annual budget, Mayor Greg Christensen spoke to the Beaudesert Times.
BT: From your perspective what are some of the highlights of this budget?
GC: The minimum general rate increase for rural and residential properties is 1.4 per cent while for those who are on a more expensive footprint and they are on rate in the dollar, it is a two per cent increase which is less than the national consumer price index at the moment.
BT: What things can we look forward to in terms of infrastructure spending in the coming year?
GC: We’re at a really critical juncture for the future of our economy and the one message I get from all sectors is that our transport network is not adequately keeping pace. We want to accelerate our spending to improve our road network. There’s $30 million going into road and bridge upgrades and that includes removing load limits on bridges to allow for greater movement of freight and improving roads so that they can cope with the demands of modern transport. Economic opportunities are coming our way that create the prospect of a business boom in our region. That’s worthless if we aren’t able to create an exciting environment for people to come and live where they work. The worst case scenario would be if Bromelton expanded and everyone lived in Logan. So we need to focus on renewing our communities so they are attractive to future generations.
BT: Two councillors voted against the budget and the discussions prior to this meeting were described as robust. The main problem as they described it was that the rate rises were unfair on small businesses. How would your respond to that?
GC: There some perspectives in the meeting that saw it as negative to put those increases in place. But there were other comments that this was about balancing the scales to achieve fairness. Whilst they were difficult deliberations, the overall outcome here is in some ways playing catch up to a fairer location in terms of contribution. One thing I’m never short of is people in business asking for improvements to infrastructure to further their business. We have to pay for that somehow. So we either continue to pursue a path that places a load on some parts and not evenly across the community or we can spread that load.