June 26, 2020
Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council has handed down its 2020-21 Budget – a $19.92 million package which includes five new houses for the community, cemetery upgrades, a new skate park and even provision for a new town clock.
CEO Chatur Zala addressed the Budget meeting of Councillors and senior staff at the Cherbourg Council Chambers on Friday morning.
He said by law the Budget had to be completed by July 31, but as it was ready in June, Council had decided to present it a bit earlier this year.
Other projects listed in the Budget include $1.5 million towards the construction of the proposed footpath connecting Cherbourg to Murgon (half the expected cost, excluding the bridge construction) and a $1.25 million water main upgrade.
Full designs for the footpath project should be available at the end of next month.
Mr Zala said Cherbourg Council currently had 86 employees, including 54 full-time, 10 part-time and 22 casuals.
Unfortunately, some staff had to be stood down at the recycling facilities in Cherbourg and Kingaroy due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic also has cost Council $220,000 on maintaining the Cherbourg Road checkpoint, a job that Council has now handed back to the State Government. Council is hoping to recoup this expense from either the Federal or State governments.
He said that despite the impact of COVID-19, Council was in a strong financial position.
Council employees will receive a 1.9 per cent wage increase and councillors will receive the Category 1 rate determined by the independent Local Government Remuneration Commission.
Cherbourg Council’s only sources of income are from rent (it currently has 316 houses), service charges levied to organisations such as the local school, hospital and police station; income from Council enterprises such as the Container Refund Point and recycling plant, and government grants.
Rental income of $1.19 million has been budgeted for and $648,000 in services charges.
The Budget includes funding to upgrade 100 houses during the next 12 months, including repaints, construction of sheds and kitchen upgrades.
The meeting heard that Council workers handle more than 4500 housing maintenance jobs every year, ranging from fixing dripping taps to replacing door locks. Fences and driveways are also being constructed.
Mr Zala said Council’s farm was losing money at present. About 100 head of cattle were left, and these would be sold.
The biggest external boost to the Budget comes from State Government Financial Aid – $1.83 million – which will go towards Council’s operating costs including salaries, telephone and electricity charges.
Projects that will be funded under the Works 4 Queensland program include the skate park, town clock (to be erected at the roundabout), footpath extensions and cemetery upgrades.
The Federal Government’s Financial Assistance Grants program – which allocates funds to all councils – will contribute about $702,000 towards the Budget’s bottom line.
Upgrades to the Cherbourg Material Recovery Facility include a diesel tank, dust extractors, weighbridge and a second smaller baler.
Council has been allocated $90,318 under the Roads to Recovery Program and $39,849 under Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program.
Mr Zala said it was a balanced Budget but one that would benefit the Cherbourg community.
“We try to find every avenue (to help) the community,” he said.