Muswellbrook Shire Council released their 2018/2019 budget which they say focuses on economic diversification, liveability and long-term sustainability in the Shire.
Councillor and spokesperson for Finance Scott Bailey delivered the budget speech this morning at the Muswellbrook Chamber of Commerce and Industry Breakfast with the announcement that council’s budget is also in surplus.
“We have two major funds. We have a Future Fund which is our investment fund it has an education section and an investment section. Now the future fund is reporting a $2.2 million surplus this year which is excellent news,” said Councillor Bailey.
“The General Fund which is where all of the boring Council stuff gets done out of is reporting a $720,000 surplus and that has allowed us to pay done $3.2 million in debt this year which is excellent news.”
Councillor Bailey added that around 10 per cent of the purchase price of Muswellbrook Marketplace from last year has been paid off from that, and they expect the economy and the finances to steadily grow over the next few years.
Also announced this morning was $1 million for the newly formed Upper Hunter Economic Development Corporation which will drive growth and diversification in the economy.
The pilot biorefinery will play a big role in that growth and diversification as well.
“It’s part of the transition away from coal and thermal power and we are happy to be a really big part of that. It is on council land but it is supported by both state and federal governments,” said Councillor Bailey.
“As we transition away from the traditional power generation that we’ve done for so many years, we need to be able to look at other ways of generating power. The biorefinery is just one, there are many other options, people are far more familiar no doubt with wind and solar and battery storage but there’s also hydro, all of those things will be looked at the economic development fund but it’s not confined just to power generation, it’s any economic development in the Upper Hunter.”
$1.9 million has been allocated for the extension of the University of Newcastle’s Upper Hunter Campus in Bridge Street, $1 million has been set aside to refurbish Loxton House and $100,000 to turn Weidmann Cottage into a café and headquarters for visitor information services.
The first stage of the $7 million Aquatic Centre Masterplan has been allocated $3.125 million for construction works associated with the upgrade.
Denman will see more than $1 million for the first stage of its Main Street renewal works and nearly $2 million will go towards the reconstruction of the Denman Memorial Hall.
Also in the budget is an allocation of $1.2 million for an Animal Care Facility in Denman Road, $4.8 million to complete the Recycled Water Treatment Works.
Council will continue funding events as well with $50,000 to Muswellbrook Race Cup and additional funding also for the Blue Heeler Festival and a revamp of the Bottoms Up Festival to the Noisy Heeler Festival.
Councillor Bailey said “The Budget recognises the need for forward planning to ensure the long-term future of the local economy and makes key investments in infrastructure, information systems, education, job creation, events and town revitalisation.”
Image credit: Grant Broadcasters/Jessica Rouse