The Whitsunday Regional Council is involved in a variety of different programs, works, projects and events. To find out what has been happening recently in the Whitsunday region or to read important community information, please read our news releases below.
Current Press Releases
Budget Shortfall Q & A
Q: Why did it take this long for the funding shortfall to be recognised and why weren't projects stopped or cut back?
A: The majority of the shortfall relates back to funding for the repairs of flood affected roads and infrastructure from 2009 and 2010 events. Whitsunday Regional Council was funded to deliver $135.3 million through the joint Commonwealth- State National Disaster Relief Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA) as a result of the 2009 and 2010 flood events. Council spent a total of $153.3 million, an overspend of approximately $18 million.
The overspend was first identified in April 2012 and a full audit was conducted to detail the full extent of the problem. However, the vast majority of the works had already been completed by February 2012, so there was no opportunity to reduce the scope of works as they had already been completed.
The governance issues regarding the authorisation of project over expenditure and increased scope of works have been referred for investigation by the Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC).
Q: Why can't Council apply to Commonwealth and State Governments for more funding?
A: Funding was approved on the basis of a detailed flood repair report and WRC received set funding to deliver a set number and scope of projects. Council is unable to change the amount of funding received retrospectively as the works that were delivered were out of scope. There are no other government funding sources available for these projects.
Q : Why can't Council absorb the overspend? Why does it have to be funded by Ratepayers?
A: Council's entire rateable income (inclusive of fees and charges) is approximately $80 million per annum. Council simply does not have the capacity to absorb this level of additional costwhile it maintains services to ratepayers.
Q: Where is Council getting the $20 million from?
A: Council is in the process of securing loans from Queensland Treasury Corporation. These loans will fund the $20 million budget shortfall thereby ensuring that Council's day to day delivery of services is not impacted and that no Council jobs are lost as a result of this situation.
Q: How long will the Major Project Levy be in place?
A: Council proposes that the Major Project Levy of approximately $140 / annum / rateable property will be in place for the next financial year However, Council is also implementing a land and asset sale review program. In addition, Council has also has reduced costs wherever possible; implemented a freeze on all capital works projects and also introduced an approval limitation by the CEO on all expenditure regardless of its status in budget.
Q: Who pays the Major Project Levy?
A: The levy will be applied to all properties in the region from which the Council receives rates.
Q: Will there be job losses or cuts to services?
A: Council will not be cutting staff numbersin response to this situation and will continue to maintain current services. Council has already undergone an extensive efficiency and effectiveness review where management and structural changes have already been applied. Additionally,Council has introduced a number of ‘belt tightening' measures and will be actively looking for more ways to pay back the loan as quickly as possible.
Q: How do I know that this issue will not occur again in the future?
A: Council undertook an internal investigation in late 2012 has resulted in a restructure of key personnel and Council departments, while systems and processes have been strengthened to ensure this situation does not occur in the future. CEO Scott Waters will be presenting a monthly update report to Council regarding the overspend issue and residents and ratepayers will be kept informed by Council.