AS WE get close to the pointy end of our Free Noosa campaign, I know there are many people asking will we be financially better off after de-amalgamation ?
And the answer is yes. Demonstrably, undeniably yes.
The Free Noosa campaign might be primarily about having the right to decide our own future, but we all know that practical issues like making ends meet are important. A lot of work has gone into looking at the financial aspects of de-amalgamation and the results look good.
So let me walk you through the 10-year financial model for our new Noosa Council, put together by some of Australia's leading local government financial experts.
First, it is based on modest rate increases of just 3.5% pa in contrast to much higher increases planned by our current Regional Council.
The model delivers an operating surplus of around $6m each year, even after allowing for the higher level of services that we enjoyed before amalgamation. That underpins a cash balance that increases from $41M to $62M over the 10 years of the model. In comparison, the SCRC cash balance has reduced from $334M to $171M in three years. The Noosa model also delivers an increase in capital expenditure each year, from $28M in 2013/4 to $46M in 2022/3. In comparison, the capital expenditure planned by the SCRC for Noosa this year is just $20M.
And all of this can be achieved while reducing Noosa Council borrowings from $30m to $25m. In comparison, SCRC borrowings are scheduled to increase from $201M to $322M in the five years from 2011 to 2016. So the bottom line is this; before amalgamation Noosa was one of the most financially sound councils in Queensland. After de-amalgamation, it will be again - and with very modest rate rises.
Contrast this with our current regional council where debt will rise dramatically over the next three years, while their cash balance has fallen alarmingly over the past three years. This is the same SCRC that has increased rates by 46% over the past four years for Noosa ratepayers, while reducing a range of council services. You will have noticed a lot of financial nonsense being peddled in the lead-up to de-amalgamation, some of it by uninformed bystanders, some by vested interests outside Noosa. If your main concern is the future well-being of this area, natural protection and our lifestyle, then you are already a Free Noosa supporter. If your primary concern is the economics of de-amalgamation, then you also have every reason to come aboard Noosa's well-run ship.
Public meetings have been scheduled over the next week - details are on our website FreeNoosa.com.