AFTER three years of financial turmoil, Whitsunday Regional Council has handed down a budget for the 2015/16 financial year that mayor Jennifer Whitney says is "balanced and responsible."
The much-maligned infrastructure levy, which was introduced in 2013 at a cost of $140 per rateable property and lowered to $100 last year, is gone.
Speaking on Tuesday, Mayor Whitney said it was a milestone moment to be able to ditch the levy, which was introduced under her watch.
"It is a major feat... it was always something I didn't want to (introduce) personally," she said.
While the levy is no more, general rates have risen by two per cent, largely offsetting any potential savings to the ratepayer.
On-time payment discounts for rates will remain at five per cent and the council's pensioner remission has stayed at what was described as "one of the best in Queensland" at 20 per cent of rates and charges to a maximum of $300.
With council's debt now sitting at $58 million, Cr Whitney said council was now in the position to "realign how it operates and deliver a renewed focus".
She said the community could now step forward with confidence and positivity after a difficult period.
As a result, Cr Whitney promised to deliver a "robust" $28.4 million capital works program, double what was delivered in last year's budget.
This year's projects will include a $3 million upgrade of the Whisper Bay breakwater and boat ramp, $400,000 for the Airlie Beach foreshore and the building of a sound shell, $447,000 for the region's aerodromes, including an expansion of the Whitsunday Coast Airport departure lounge to accommodate increased passenger numbers; funding for the development of a new Airlie Beach car parking strategy and a refurbishment of the starfish roundabout in Airlie Beach among many others.
The budget also featured more than $7 million for wastewater projects and more than $9 million for the region's roads - nearly double what was spent on road infrastructure in the previous financial year.
BUDGET AT A GLANCE:
$3 million for Whisper Bay breakwater, boat ramp upgrade and pontoons
$400,000 for the Airlie Foreshore and building of a sound shell
$200,000 for region's libraries
$447,000 across region's aerodromes, including expansion of the Whitsunday Coast Airport departure lounge
$7.3 million on waste water infrastructure upgrades
$9.4 million on the regions roads
Nearly $3 million on water infrastructure, including new water mains in Manooka and Golden Orchid Drs.
$600,000 for a water park in Proserpine
$30,000 worth of new play equipment for Logan's Adventure Playground
$15,000 for a walking track to Funnel Bay
Funding to develop a car parking strategy for Airlie Beach