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It gives me great pleasure to put forward the Douglas Shire Council’s budget for the financial year 2024/2025 which budgets for a 272 thousand dollar surplus.

As your elected representatives, it is our responsibility to ensure the efficient allocation of resources and the overall well being of our shire. I believe that this budget reflects that commitment to recovery, sustainability and the betterment of our community.

This year has been unlike any other due to ex-Tropical Cyclone Jasper and the recovery process that continues to this day.

Jasper made landfall on 13 December last year but it was the associated weather event that followed which had devastating consequences for the Douglas Shire.

These are figures we have used repeatedly but they are worth mentioning again. Following Jasper, 3-point-2 metres of rain was recorded in less than a week and a total of 4-point-2 metres in the space of two months.

It led to major flooding, landslips, overnight evacuations, homes being destroyed, water infrastructure being damaged and roads collapsing.

Road crews removed a 56-metre landslip from Noah Range, restoring access to Cape Tribulation after months of isolation.

At the Degarra community, who sadly lost one of its community members in the flooding, Council has been providing ongoing support to rebuild.

Our water network has been upgraded this year, with new filters installed at Mossman and Whyanbeel improving production rates, major pipe installations replacing flood-damaged mains and back-up water tanks purchased.

4WD families will be safely driving along Bloomfield Road during these school holidays due to major repair works there while dozens of the shire’s unsealed roads will be repaired by the end of the year.

Fortunately, these recovery projects have been made possible due to funding from the Queensland Reconstruction Authority.

More than 11 million dollars has been allocated in this budget to repair unsealed roads both north and south of the Daintree River.

I take this opportunity to thank both the Federal and Queensland Governments for recognising the enormity of the recovery process. Council’s collaboration with them continues.

Factoring in this support, alongside business-as-usual spending, has proven an extraordinary number-crunching exercise for Council’s finance team.

Council has also considered the struggles many have faced over the past six months.

Some families and organisations have been displaced while their homes are restored or rebuilt while some businesses have suffered disruptions to trade due to flood damage.

The local farming community has been rocked by the demise of Mossman mill.

I believe that we have managed to get the best result we can to keep the broader general rate rise for residents as low as possible whilst committing to maintaining service levels.

Most homeowners will see a rate rise of just over a dollar per week, while investors can expect a weekly increase of just over two dollars (utilities not included). This is below CPI and far less than some neighbouring Councils.

Water supply is another key area of focus in this budget. The flooding in December highlighted how the region’s water security can be threatened in extreme circumstances.

When the taps, toilets and showers ran dry our tourism sector suffered reputational damage and our lifestyle was compromised, albeit in the short term.

An investment of nearly seven million dollars into water supply reflects the need to improve water security if another natural disaster of that magnitude occurs again.

Council has allocated an additional 1-point-56 million dollars to build the highly-anticipated Splash Park at Port Douglas.

This is a priority project for the community, according to feedback Council has received during the planning stages.

In conclusion, the 2024/2025 budget reflects our commitment to continue the recovery process and bring a sense of business-as-usual back to our community.

Physically the Douglas Shire has been changed forever due to the devastating power of mother nature. However, I am confident in time, and with investment in the right areas, we can reach new levels of vibrancy and growth.

In closing, I would like to thank my fellow elected members and CEO Rachel Brophy for their contributions in developing this budget and of course the tireless efforts of Council’s finance team.

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