ISLANDS BOTH WINNERS AND LOSERS IN REDLAND CITY COUNCIL NEW BUDGET
Our islands are both winners and losers in the Redland City Council budget that was released at the most recent council meeting. It is clear that council had a considerable task, considering it was coming off one of the worst periods known in world and medical history. Not only that, but this year has been compounded with rapidly rising inflation for most goods and services, the 5% national wage increase, and the rise in interest rates. What has made the pain less than what it might have been, was the strong financial situation the council was in prior years. With this in mind, council has come up with a rise in council rates of just 4.73%. that represents around 98 cents per week. Given that petrol prices and the like go up and down many times more than that in just a day, the council rate increase is minimal. Living on our islands, however, will be somewhat of an advantage. Most island homes come under the minimal general rate, so the impact with be far less on our islands compared to the rest of the Redlands on the mainland. The islands win and lose in other areas. It is clear that $14 million will directly benefit island projects, which is higher than any other division of council. This will involve a $2.08 million SMBI Ferry Terminal upgrade and jetty work on Lamb and Karragarra Islands, and $1.98 million for expansion of the Russell Island car Park. On Minjerriba (Straddie) $7.35 million has been allocated to improve tourism and road infrastructure. There are considerable other works that are detailed in the budget and can be read in further stories in this edition. The one major blow, however, is the impact on the popular ‘Green Seal’ road program that has been so successful. It has been suspended this year, due to more pressing problems, which could involve repairs to other existing sealed island roads. It is possible funding from other areas might see it re-start later in the year. Cr Mark Edwards tells us he will be seeking out all opportunities to continue the road seal program. All-in-all it is a good outcome for our islands. At last we are getting more attention and our fair share after years of neglect. It should also be remembered that recent massive growth in property sales and building on our islands is continuing to add to council’s coffers!