Dubbo Regional Council releases draft budget for 2019/20

Dubbo Regional Council has outlined how it plans to spend $215 million in 2019/20.

Council has released the draft 2019/20 Budget and Fees/Charges. It will be placed on public exhibition for 28 days, starting on Friday.

The public has been encouraged to respond to the proposed document by making a submission. Responses from the public will then be considered before it is formally approved.

Rates and revenue

Total ordinary rates are set to increase by 2.7 per cent in 2019/20, while sewerage charges and water usages and access charges will increase by five per cent.

Dubbo Regional councillor Greg Mohr said he was concerned by the proposed water increase.

"I know we are going through a critical stage of the drought at the moment," he said.

"I'm still giving this some consideration so I'm asking the public for feedback and their view on the five per cent [increase]."

ALSO MAKING NEWS:


Rates and general revenue are expected to total more than $46 million in the next financial year. It's expected to rise to almost $48 million in 2020/21.

The Dubbo City Regional Airport is expected to bring in more than $301,000, the Dubbo Regional Livestock Markets will add another $335,000 and the Dubbo City Holiday Park about $200,000.

Roads and footpaths

Across the next four years, $31.8 million has been allocated for urban roads capital works. Of that, $15.2 million will be spent in 2019/20.

Another $18.6 million has been set aside for rural roads. It includes $7.3 million in 2019/20 and $1.92 million will go towards sealing unsealed roads.

In the Dubbo local government area, 42 per cent of the roads remain unsealed. There are 415 kilometres of urban streets and 2320 kilometres of rural roads under council's care.

Mayor Ben Shields said there wasn't a day that went by where he didn't hear a complaint about roads, especially rural roads.

"We have 1500 kilometres of roads that are not sealed in this council area.It's further than what it is to Brisbane," he said.

"And that's not including all the rural roads that we have that are sealed but are bloody hopeless because they're crumbling and falling apart."

Cr Shields said council had a huge backlog and there were heaps of roads not up to standard. He said it was very important for the federal and governments to continue to fund road improvements.

There has been $620,210 planned to continue the Footpath and Cycleway Construction and Renewal Program during the financial year.

Major road projects to be undertaken in 2019/20 include: Boundary Road extension between Alexandria and Sheraton Road, Purvis Lane upgrading, Village Sealing Program, upgrading of the road between Muronbung and Goolma.

Council will also work with Roads and Maritime Service on five significant projects in the next four years: Newell Highway reconstruction between Minore Road and Victoria Street, the Fitzroy and Cobra streets upgrade, LH Ford Bridge strengthening works and the new bridge over the Macquarie River.

Trees and GPTs

During the next four years Council plans to spend $1.3 million on street tree planting programs.

Macquarie Lions Park, Theresa Maliphant Park and the Victoria Park playground are all in the plans to be improved. An expected $437,500 will go towards Victoria Park.

Shade will also be updated at Battistells, Lions Park, Joira Road and Victoria Park.

About $3.1 million will also be spent on installing more Gross Pollutant Traps. They will be installed in the river outfalls that are currently unprotected to prevent litter from going into the river.

Events and facilities

There will be an increase in fees at the Dubbo Regional Livestock markets. It includes a rise from $9 to $9.30 per head of cattle, while sheep will rise by five cents to 95 cents.

Agents' licence fees will also proposed to increase.

Councillor Jane Diffey said she wanted to hear from the public on the proposed increase.

"While they are only slight I think that one of my concerns is we're experiencing a drought, numbers have decreased there, stock prices have fallen and I don't think that's an area that can afford to take any slight hit in fees and charges," Cr Diffey said.

"These are going to hit an industry that's already going to suffer further in drought conditions."

For the next four years, $40,000 will be given to the DREAM Festival.

In 2019/20 $97,500 has been allocated for Sister City activities. Similar amounts will be spent across the next four years.

Some capital work has been planned in 2019/20 at the Dubbo Showground. It includes $250,000 for stable facilities, $60,000 to upgrade the toilet facilities, $52,000 for lighting and $17,500 for CCTV.

The Wellington Pool construction is expected to be completed by November. $8.97 million for the final section of work has been included in the 2019/20 budget.

Council is also expected to contribute $950,000 to the Macquarie Regional Library for 2019/20. Another $60,000 will go towards buying new books.

Need for feedback

Mayor Ben Shields encouraged the public to share their views on the budget to help guide council.

"There are things we do need some guidance from the public on like an increase in water fees," he said.

"I encourage members of the public to read the documents, have their say and tell us if we need the increase in water or not."

Cr Shields said he did have concerns about the increase, but his decision would be influenced by the public.

However, if the cost of water was not increase by the five per cent, Cr Shields said council would have to decide what would no longer be given funding.

"This isn't council's money we're spending, this is ratepayer's money that we're spending and as such councillors have a responsibility to be cognisant of what the residents expect us to o and to spend money wisely," the mayor said.

"Financially it's very important for members of the public to see what council is getting up to, what we are spending money on."